'The Russians of Ross-shire' or the Massacre of the Rosses. A pamphlet by Donald Ross concerning the Clearances at Greenyards in 1854.
Strathcarron is in the parish of Kincardine, Ross-shire, not far from Bonar bridge, which spans the Dornoch Firth, and connects Ross-shire with the county of Sutherland. The lands of Greenyard, Glencalvie, Eidan, and Amat, are on the south side of the river Carron, which runs through a most interesting and beautiful vale, until its junction with the Dornoch Frith. The proprietor of these lands is one Major Robertson, whose residence is in Kindeace, in Easter Ross. He is now close-on 70 years of age, with nothing remarkable in his history, excepting a strange hatred of human beings as occupiers of his land, and an inordinate love of sheep and sheep farmers. On this part of his property, situated in the parish of Kincardine, there existed at one time a large number of most excellent and respectable tenants; but with the exception of about two dozen of families, now occupying a portion of Greenyard, they have been all removed to make room for sheep. There were removed from Glencalvie thirty-six families, from Eidan twelve families, and now it is contemplated to remove twenty-four families from Greenyard; and when this is accomplished the whole lands belonging to Major Robertson, in the parish of Kincardine, will be under sheep.
The present Tacksman of Glencalvie, Eidan and Greenyerd, is one Mr Munro, a very old man. with scarcely any good qualities to recommend him. Although verging on eighty years—and although possessed of many hundreds of sheep, and occupying immense tracts of most beautiful strath and hill land, his heart is not yet satisfied, and his greed is not yet appeased. In his neighbourhood, there live twenty-two families occupying the land. They pay rents, varying from L8. to L14. each, to him as the principal Tacksman,—he paying so much to the proprietor for the lands which they occupy. These tenants are not one penny in arrears of rent: they bear a very excellent character: no complaint is made against their conduct in the district; and yet, Munro with (as is alleged) the “consent and concurrence" of Major Robertson, the proprietor, applied recently for warrants of removal against them.
When the tenants heard rumours that Mr Munro had gone secretly to Tain to order summonses of removal to be served upon them, they called upon him, and inquired if there was any truth in the rumours that reached them; when Mr Munro, most solemnly declared that he never authorized any one of them to be removed-that he never ordered summonses of removal to he served upon them; and, calling his Maker to witness, he declared that he never an authorized anyone to apply for warrants in his name, and that he would have nothing to do with their removal. The tenants were induced by these strong declarations made by Munro, to believe that he had not authorized their removal; yet, they were astonished on hearing that the Sheriff had actually granted warrants against them at Munro’s instance, and in his name; and that a sheriff-officer was on his way to Greenyard to serve them with the usual “warnings" to quit.
They called again on Munro for an explanation, and Munro again appealed to heaven, that he knew nothing of the matter, that he applied for no warrants, that he instructed no officers to serve them, and that he had nothing to do with any legal proceedings against the people. Believing at the time that Munro had stated the truth—believing that he never authorized the application for warrants in his name, the female portion of the inhabitants of Greenyard, accompanied by some boys, met Mr Macpherson, a sheriff officer from Tain, on his way to Greenyard, to serve “warnings” on the tenants. Macpherson was accompanied by Peter Mackenzie, a policeman; and on entering the lands of Greenyard, the females demanded of Macpherson his authority for appearing with warnings on their lands. Macpherson said he acted under the authority of the sheriff; but, the women replied, that Munro having disclaimed all connexion with the removing, and having solemnly denied that he applied for warrants, or authorized any application for them, or for service of warnings, they refused to let him pass on, unless he produced a mandate iron Mr Munro, authorising the service of the summonses.
This, Macpherson could not exhibit, consequently, the females laid hold on him, searched his pockets, and took the summonses from him and burnt them. They made no attack whatever on Macpherson, but treated him very gently; and one or two of the men who came up after the summonses were burnt, went with him and with his assistant “Peter" to the Inn at Ardgay, and treated them to refreshments and some spirits. Macpherson left the district without any molestation, or abuse whatever. Not a hair of his head was touched, and he returned to Tain in as good health and with far note spirits than he had when he left it. This is the simple and truthful state of this affair, which was blazoned about in the local papers as one of an onslaught, and of stripping M‘Pherson naked, &c., and where the females, it was alleged behaved like savages. After this came;
THE RUPTURE WITH THE EXCISE MEN
The burning of the summonses by the women of Greenyard caused considerable excitement in the surrounding districts. It was the topic of conversation in every company: some applauding, and some questioning the legality of their conduct. When two or three drouthy cronies met at a public-house, over their ale, or “Teaniuieh,” they discussed the question of evictions and removals; and argued fur and against the conduct of the Greenyard women, with all the cute reasoning of their native country. It was after hearing a keen discussion on this subject in one of the inns in the neighbourhood that three itinerating gaugers sallied forth, fully bent, as they said, on having "some fun with the Women of Greenyard." Scarce had they left the inn when they began to represent, and indeed to announce themselves as sheriffs officers, on their way to warn out, all the tenants in Greenyard. This was enough. The news spread like wildfire -the swiftest boys ran up by the banks of the Curran like roes, intimating at every house that three sheriff officers were on their way up the glen to warn out the tenants of Greenyard.
The women again sallied out and met the sham sheriffs officers at the march of Greenyard. They asked what was their mission to that district? and being told by the gaugers that they were sheriff-officers going to serve summonses on all the tenants, it mused great excitement among them; and they demanded their authority from Mr Munro. The gaugers said they had sufficient authority already, and they ordered the women to “move on." The women would not budge one inch but demanded that the gaugers should leave the ground or else show a mandate or some written authority from Munro. This the Gaugers could not produce, and the clamour got so fast and furious that the gaugers found themselves most awkwardly situated. The women surrounded them and demanded a sight of their warrant, but no warrant could be shown; and at last, the imprudent fellows began to plead for mercy. One of them—a long ugly looking fellow with a huge moustache—confessed that they were only practising a small bit of imposition on the excited people, and begged to be let away as they were excisemen. But the women said they could scarcely believe men who came to them with a falsehood on their lips at the outset; and further, that they could not believe that excisemen could be guilty of such irregular conduct.
The man with the long beard pleaded hard to be let away; but no, the women demanded a sight of their papers, as proof of the truth of their statements. The gaugers strongly objected to this, and at last one of them pulled out a loaded pistol, and presented it at the heads of some of the women. A young lad who had been near the scene came up; and seeing the gauger's pistol levelled at his mother’s head, took out an old rusty pistol he had for frightening away crews, and told the gauger that if he would dare meddle with his mother that he must just stand the consequences. The gauger immediately put his pistol into his pocket and exhibited all the papers he had on him, but among them, there were no summonses of removal. In producing his papers, he took out two or three paper notes, and laid them down with the rest; but the females immediately handed back his money, telling him to keep it in his pocket, as they were not so ignorant as not to distinguish between a pound note and a warrant of removal. After the females were satisfied that the parties were really excisemen and not sheriffs officers, they allowed them to proceed on their way.
There were no papers belonging to them burnt or destroyed: not one of them was struck or assaulted; and instead of being “denuded of their clothing and carried shoulder-high off the property," as was stated by a senseless correspondent of a northern newspaper, they left the district with all the clothes on their backs which they had on coming into it. The man with the beard, who represented Himself as in “Her Majesty’s service"—a "Preventive officer,”—-and an officer of “Inland Revenue"-of course, threatened all manner of prosecution, because he was, forsooth! interfered within carrying out a most contemptible and low piece of imposition on an already over-excited people. He appeared in Strathcarron representing himself in a character which did not belong to him, and if he had got a sound thrashing as he well deserved, he alone provoked it.
After he left Greenyard he returned to the nearest inn, and wrote a most-silly and ridiculous communication respecting his encounter with the Greenyard females to the Glasgow Herald! Yes, all the way to St. Mungo. Although this encounter with the gaugers was a senseless and ridiculous affair from beginning to and, still the enemies of the people of Greenyard magnified it, and used it as a pretext for abusing their good name, and for seeking a police force to go to the spot to back the sheriff-officer in serving the summonses of removal. Accordingly, private meetings were held in Tain—the great heads of the evicting firms and the great sheep lords consulted together—and it was resolved upon to go to the district with a strong police force in order, as they said, to “uphold the majesty of the law,” and to “strike terror,"—if not into the hearts, at any rate into the skulls of the opposing females.
THE MASSACRE OF THE ROSSES
In consequence of the resolution referred to above, correspondence was entered into with the heads of the police in the neighbouring county and the surrounding districts, for strong policemen who would go to maintain the “majesty of the law” in Greenyard. In the selection of these men, it is not to he supposed that the most humane, the most feeling, the most prudent of the police were chosen. No! dirty work must be done by dirty hands, and a cruel business is most generally entrusted to cruel hearts and too ferocious dispositions. The full complement of the police force being enrolled (the lists returned to Tain) orders went forth that they should meet the Sheriff substitute, Mr Taylor, Tain, and his party on the morning of the 31st March last, at the junction of the Tain and Ardross roads, at Midfearn. The police force from Inverness and Dingwall arrived at the place appointed a little after midnight. The Tain brigade, headed by the Sheriff, Mr Stewart the law agent for Kindence, and Mr Taylor the Fiscal, arrived in an hour or two after. After several bottles of ale, porter, and whiskey had been drunk, and the roll called, the police stood in a row and the Sheriff administered an oath to them. Between Sheriff, Fiscal, Law Agent, Jehus and policemen, there were more than 40 men, convened in this place on that dark and dismal morning binding themselves under a great curse, like the wicked Jews of old, that they would care nothing until they had maltreated the women of Greenyard. It is presumed however that they excluded from the oath all reference to drink; for they brought with them, to near Greenyard, large baskets full of bottles of alcoholic liquors, of which they drank copiously before they made the savage onslaught on the poor females of that district, as will be afterwards described.
The morning on which the baton brigade met at Midfearn, as already stated, was dark and dismal. The solitary nature of the locality—the Dornoch Frith, with its dark, ugly, and angry waters, rolling on towards the ocean—the high mountains of Kincardine, rising to an immense height behind—the awful roar of cataracts, and the numerous torrents that came dashing down the steep sides of these mountains—the heavy monotonous rush of the river Grudy towards the Frith—the hideous howl of the wild cats and badgers, and the unearthly screeches of owls and sea birds, disturbed from their night’s repose by the sudden appearance among them of the Baton brigade—the solemn trend of the brigade with their heavy hob-nailed boots on the road, as they were drilled and sworn—their clothing and appearance as dark as the night they were out in, and as black as the job they were about to perpetrate, altogether rendered the scene, as well as the men, “truly horrible.” As the poet said—
“That night, a child might understand,
The de’il had business on his hand."
The swearing over, and large quantities of liquor swallowed, the brigade tumbled into their carriages—the Jehus mounted their boxes—crack went the whips, and round went the wheels, and with lashing and beating and furious driving the brigade reached Gladfield, near Greenyard, by daylight in the morning. Here again, they were “refreshed," and thence marched on to the boundaries of Greenyard. Although the police from Tain and its neighbourhood were sworn to secrecy, binding themselves under an oath not to divulge to anyone that they were to proceed to Greenyard on the 3lst of March, still the affair “Spunked” out; but whether, as of old, it was “Paul’s sister’s son" who heard of their intention, and the oath they had taken and gave the information; or whether it emanated from one of the police themselves, no one can say; but certain it is, the news of the approach of the brigade reached Greenyard, several hours before the brigade itself. Consequently from 60 to 70 women, and a lot of boys and girls were assembled on the march of Greenyard. About a dozen of men were in the background, and all were orderly and quiet when the Sheriff and the policemen emerged from the woods and came up to them. The Sheriff informed the women who he was: and that they must clear the way for the sheriff officer is going to serve the summonses on the tenants. This order not being instantly obeyed, a minute did not elapse when he (the Sheriff) ordered the police to march, to clear the way, and to knock down the females. The police, who had been watching this order like wolves for their prey, rushed instantly among the females, striking them violently on the head with their batons, and levelling them to the ground.
I visited Greenyard on the 14th of April, and I shall here describe a few cases where the parties were seriously injured.
WOMEN DANGEROUSLY WOUNDED
lst. Elizabeth Ross, aged 22, daughter of Alexander Ross, tenant, at Amat-na-tuath, was struck most violently on the head with a baton and was kicked on the breast and shoulders while lying on the ground. There is a deep cut, 3 inches long on the crown of the head, which shattered the skull and destroyed a portion of the frontal and parietal bones, causing concussion and compression of the brain. There is another cut in an opposite direction on the top of the head, and in the direction from ear to car. It is fully 2 inches long, and very deep. She has also severe bruises on her arms and shoulders. The marks of the tacks of the policemen's boots were still visible on the breast and shoulders of this girl. The kicks were given to her after she was lying on the ground. Her clothing was completely red with her blood. Pieces of the skin of her head were stripped off with the batons of the police, and her long hair, clotted with blood, could be seen in quantities spread over the ploughed land. Elizabeth was a tall, pretty young woman. She was well known in the district as a quiet and respectable girl; and most dutiful and kind to her parents. From the horrible treatment she received at the hands of the police there is no prospect of her ever recovering. She is now pining away—suffering from intense pain in the head, pausing aberration of intellect and fever, together with a debility, which is sure to terminate her existence. It does not require much medical skill to foresee the result in such a case as this.
2nd. Margaret Ross. aged 25, sister of the above, was best violently on the head. Her cap was cut, and the parietal bone shattered, exhibiting an ugly cut 2 three-eighth inches long. There is another deep cut behind the left ear, 2 inches long. The occipital bone is fractured and both concussion and compression of the brain was the result. She was struck violently after she fell—lost a great deal of blood, and now suffers from great debility and complete disorganization of the whole system, which will shortly produce fever, and in all likelihood death. This young woman was carried away off the ground weltering in her blood, was handcuffed and brought to the jail of Tain, a distance of 20 miles. Her head was not bandaged, and her face, arms, breasts and shoulders were all red with her blood. She was kept in jail for 24 hours. Alienation of the mental faculties is very perceptible in this case. There is tearing frontal headache, vomitings, and cold and sudden perspiration. Like her sister Elizabeth, this girl bore a very excellent character, and was much respected and esteemed by a. large circle of friends, neighbours and acquaintances.
3rd. Chirsty Ross, aged 40, residing in Amat-na-tuath, unmarried, went to see tho policemen out of mere curiosity. She was not standing among the crowd at all, but at a little distance. The police however followed her-struck her violently several times on the head-—still, Chirsty pursued her right and the police after her—until at last, weak with the loss of blood, she fell on her face on the ground. After she was down, the brutish cowards struck her violently on the shoulders and kicked her on the side; and that Ieft her in a state of excruciating pain. In the evening she was carried off the ground and her wounds dressed up. She has a had cut over the sphenoidal bone and severe swelling in the left side, over the lines. She labours under difficulty of breathing, tremor, oppression, and isolated startings of the body, and convulsions in the limbs. Chirsty has a very good character from all her neighbours and acquaintances.
4th. Margaret Ross, aged 18 years, daughter of Thomas Ross, tenant Amat—na-tuath, was most shamefully and brutally used by the police. Margaret was- a very nice young girl, healthy and active, and a general favourite in the district. On hearing that the police were on their way to Greenyard, Margaret ran away from her father's house, and being swift of foot she was not long in reaching Greenyard, and falling in with the other females who went out to meet the police; she then took up her place in the crowd. When the police rushed in upon the defenceless females striking them with their batons, Margaret had nothing to defend herself with but her bare arms. She soon saw a number of her companions levelled to the ground with the blows given by the police, and just when trying to assist a woman who lay weltering in her blood, she was attacked by the police, one of whom struck her three violent blows with his baton across the mammae, or breasts. Notwithstanding this she ran across a field, pursued by the police; but her strength failing her, she plunged into a thicket where the police followed her, but could not use their batons, owing to the bushes. One of them however kicked her in the head with his shoe, another kicked her feet: and being most inhumanly tortured in this manner, she crept out from beneath the bushes and tried again to escape. But the police pursued her, and one of them struck her three or four times with his baton across the shoulders which brought, her prostrate to the ground, and there she lay gasping for breath! The police now proceeded to put hand-cuffs upon her; and one of them actually placed his knee upon her breast, while adjusting and holding up her hands while another put them in irons. Reader, do not fancy that I exaggerate in the least. Exaggeration is impossible; for the savage brutality with which the police acted cannot be described. The marks of the batons on the breast and across the shoulders of this young female were like drills. The flesh was mangled, and the shoulder-blade shattered. Margaret had no corsets on at the time, and nothing intervened between her flesh and the hard ash batons of the police, but her shift and a thin cotton morning gown. 0n the 14th instant, when I visited this girl in her father’s house, I found her in a recumbent position on a couch, and very weak. Her face is very pale, and she is frequently annoyed with vomiting of blood of a blackish colour. It is perfectly evident in this case that the internal organs of the chest have been ruptured so that however long this young woman may linger on, she will never recover from the injuries she received.
5th. Janet Ross, or Mackenzie, wife of John Mackenzie, tenant at Amat-na-tuath, had gone after her sisters to Greenyard to induce them to come home. The first thing she saw was two policemen beating her sister; Elizabeth—one of them pummelling her with a baton, the other kicking her on the back and shoulders, and that while she was lying weltering in her blood: Mrs Mackenzie, as might be expected, ran forward to protect her sister, but no sooner had she come within the reach of the batons of the police than she also was most brutally attacked. Her head was severely cut—her arms and shoulders were literally thrashed; and one of the police struck her across the shin-bone, above the ankles, and then rolled her over into the ploughed land; and there she was with her face in the earth, the blood gushing from the wounds in her head and shoulders, her strength entirely gone, and no one to assist her, and nothing heard around but the moans, and groans, and cries of the bruised and the wounded.
6th. Catharine Graham, aged 22 years, daughter of Hugh Graham, tenant, Amat, was in the very centre of the gathering when the Sheriff and the Policemen arrived. Catharine is among, active girl and although she had got several blows on the head and shoulders. from the police, she was not put off her feet. Ono of the police pursued her with a. broken baton in his hand and attempted to strike her, but she intercepted the blow and twisted the broken baton out of his hand! After this, she ran away to the hills, and remained there until near night, and then returned home. Her head is still bandaged, and although the wounds and cuts are partially healed, and although she is able to walk about and do some work, she is far from being past; danger.
7th. Helen Ross, aged 46 years, wife of William M‘Gregor, tenant, Greenynrd, ran after two of her children to the march of Greenyard, and she was on the Spot just when the Sherriff and the police arrived. She was very near the Sheriff and knew him well. She declares that she heard the Sheriff most distinctly ordering the police to “knock them (the women) down." That he had a yellow stick in his hand at the time and brandished it over the heads of the women. Immediately after the Sheriff said “knock them down," the police ran in among the women and beat them most unmercifully with their batons. They struck them in the head first, and then on all parts of the body after they were down. A policeman came and struck her a violent blow with his baton on the head 3 after which she wheeled round, got stupid, and fell over the bank. Another policeman came up and struck her on the side and shoulders after she was down. A large patch of the skin was torn off the side of her head by a. blow given her with a baton; and after she Was pummeled until her back and shoulders were blue, she was left on the field as dead. She was brought home on a litter, and for the space of eight days thereafter she could not move her hands or feet. She is now labouring under nervous excitement, inflammation of the neck, shortness of breath, and vomiting, tinged with blood.
8th. Margaret M'Gregor, or Ross, aged 47 years, wife of William Ross, tenant, Greenyard. This poor woman was met with savage treatment at the hands of the police. She wanted to reason with the Sheriff on the impropriety of his conduct, because Mr Munro, the Tacksman, as already stated, had denied all knowledge of the application for warrants of removal; but the answer she got was a blow on the shoulder, and then on the left ear with a baton. The blow was so violent that it cut up the grisle of the ear—broke the skull, and shattered the temporal and Splxenoid bones: causing both concussion and compression of the brain. The force used was so great, and the blow so destructive, that the poor woman was instantly felted to the ground, and the blond flowed copiously from both of her ears. Even after she was on the ground, the police struck her with their batons, and with their feet; and then left her with her head in a pool of blood! When I was in Greenyard on the 14th instant, there was not the smallest hope of her recovery, and I much fear that before what I now Write can appear in print. Margaret M‘Gregor has ceased to exist. She is the mother of seven helpless children; and as the poor little things went backwards and forward, and “toddled" and wandered around her sickbed, looking with sorrow at her deathlike visage, it was :1 most painful and heart-rending sight. The few sentences which the poor woman spoke, went clearly to show that she was barbarously treated; and my own firm conviction is, from what I saw and heard, that she is as cruelly murdered as if a policeman had deliberately shot her on the links at Tain!
9th. Ann Ross, aged 40 years, residing at Greenyard,-—a' stout active woman,—was among the very first who had gone to meet the Sheriff, not for the purpose of obstructing him or the sheriff officer; but to ascertain if they had Mr Munro's authority for their proceedings she spoke to a policeman and requested him to ask the Sheriff, but she had scarcely spoken, when the policeman, with one blow, levelled her to the ground. When she put her build to her head and found the blood gushing out, she cried “ murder.” Another policeman came up and said, “I will put you from crying,” and he beat her most unmercifully with his baton. She still cried out, and then other two policemen came, and after giving her several blows over the knuckles—they placed her wrists together, and put handcuffs on her, and then left her to roll or tumble as she pleased. She was afterwards made a prisoner and was lodged in jail.
10th. Christine Ross, aged 50 years, wife of John Ross, tenant, Greenyard, had the mother of eight children, was most shamefully and inhumanly treated. Her husband is one of the tenants who was summoned to remove. He paid L10 10s of yearly rent for 26 years and is not one farthing in arrears. Mrs Ross was most anxious to see if the Sheriff had any written authority from Mr Munro for serving them with summonses; and she was for showing to him a letter granted by Munro, and addressed to Major Robertson, the proprietor, denying that he ever authorised, or would be responsible for these removals. Labouring under the impression that the Sheriff would listen to her, she went out and was the first to meet him at the march. She essayed to speak but was not listened to, and in less than a minute she had three batons heating on her head-her mutch was cut through, and her face, breast, and shoulders were red with blood. She got a severe kick on the back of the head which raised a. large lump on it, and she had other serious bruises and cuts on other parts of her body, After she had lain on the field for nearly half an hour, the police came round, and made a. prisoner of her and lodged her in jail. Independent of the personal injuries sustained in this case, reason has been thrown completely off her seat, and the victim is now insane—in short, a maniac.
11th. Naomi Ross, aged 24 years, daughter of Hugh Ross, tenant, in Imngwell, Strathcarron. was fearfully cut on the head and shoulders. The fact is, the scalp is completely shattered in, besides, she has three or four most ugly cuts on the front and side of her head. After the poor girl was knocked down, a. monster of a policeman kicked her. Nothing in savage life could exceed the brutality of the police in this use; for, although this girl was covered with blood, and the ground around her red with it, no mercy was shown to her, on the contrary, she was most violently kicked on the breast; and also in the most delicate part of her person. She was, carried off the field and has never left her bed since and it is my firm belief that she will never recover from the injuries she received. The testimony of her neighbours. and of many respectable people in the district respecting her, go to confirm this,—-that.t a more innocent, quiet, inoffensive, or a more respectable young girl could not be found within the range of their acquaintance. Had poor Naomi been wandering on the banks of the Danube, and had been ill-used there, I could understand it; but, in Christian Scotland to be butchered alive, who can think of it without ablush of shame coming over his cheek?
13th. Catharine Ross, aged 3O years, residing at Langwell, on seeing a. crowd of people over at. Greenyard ran across the river to see what was going on. On entering the field, the first sight she saw, was Naomi Ross lying weltering in her blood. Catherine immediately turned her over and wiped the earth from her mouth and eyes; and was just in the act of tying a napkin round her head to stop the bleeding, when a policeman came up quietly behind and struck her a. most violent blow on the head with his baton, which cut her to the very bone. He then struck her several blows on the back: and, as it were to give a climax to his brutality, he closed up, by kicking her On the spine. The poor woman is most seriously injured; and will bring with her to the grave the marks of the policemen‘s batons and shoes. This is What she got for her humane and commendable conduct towards a sister in distress. Oh! man’s inhumanity to women.
14th. Ann Ross, aged 56 years, unmarried, resides at Hiltown, Langwell,——Iike Catherine Ross, before mentioned, ran across the river to see what was going on in Greenyard. She had no more thought of resisting the police than she has at this moment of going to join the insurgents In Greece! She was not, however, three minutes on the ground, when two policemen came up to her and thrashed her with their batons until her bones were cracking. At first, they beat her on the head, but one of them—a humane and tender fellow -said, “Oh! she'll not stand that, it will kill her—beat her on the back and shoulders;” and this the other fellow did until his baton was broken over the poor creature’s shoulders. Her mutch was riddled with the blows she got on the head, her blue derry gown was torn into ribbons over her back and shoulders, and her elbow was broken. The figure that poor “Annie” presented after she was taken off the field, with her head, shoulders and back out up, and covered with blood, was most shocking. Had she been attacked in a den of tigers she could not have been in a worse state.
15th. Catherine Ross, aged 24 years, wife of Donald Ross, tenant, Langwel], on hearing at her own door the blows given by the police with their batons on the heads of the women at Greenyard, and seeing some of them lying as if dead on the field; and knowing that some of her own friends were there, she ran down to the river, and quietly crossed at the ford. Ber intention was to assist; the wounded. She had, however, scarcely crossed when two policemen who were concealed among the bushes Sprung upon her like tigers; and one of them seizing her by the throat. dashed her on the stones. Her head came in contact with a large stone, which shattered it and caused compression of the brain. After she was prostrate and her head bleeding. the police, with their knees on her breast, lifted up her hands and were in the act of putting handcuffs on her when she fainted. On seeing this one of them said “Let her alone—she is dead" and then they immediately left her, and ran back to the wood. She was insensible for nearly half an hour. The fright she got (independent altogether of the injuries she received on the breast) has been productive of serious mischief, not only in seriously affecting her mental faculties, but in destroying her health, and rendering her for a time unfit for domestic duties. She has a child only four months old.
16th. Ann Ross, aged 43 years, wife of William Ross, alias Griasaich, tenant in Langwell, ran up on the bank of the river and crossed at a wide ford, where the water was only about knee-deep—as the channel was very wide. After landing on Greenyard, she heard the awful moaning and groaning of the bleeding and wounded females Who were lying on the field: and she ran to assist them. She had only time to tear her apron into stripes for bandaging the broken and bleeding heads when she saw two policemen making for her like bloodhounds. The poor woman got frightened and ran for her life. At first, she outran the police, by jumping over some ditches and drains, and was likely to get beyond their reach, and hide herself in a wood; but just as she was near it, she saw a. policeman on his knees, watching her like a cat. She now turned to the right and ran towards the river. The police however followed and came up to her, and beat her. several times on the head,-and on the back, and shoulders: with their batons; still she kept her feet, although the blood, was gushing from every wound—forming a trail after her ---still, the police pursued—up, one hill and down another—still she ran—still she was met, and chased out of one bush or thicket into another—still the batons bent on her head—still she hoped to escape, until at last, like the stag in the chase, her vision was failing—her blood-shot eyes and streaming nostrils are telling that she is hotly pursued by the bloodhounds. She is now frantic with despair——the police are close upon her—the river rapid and deep before her—there is not a moment to choose—a chance, a slender chance of escape is still left, and eyeing the gurgling pool with a confidence worthy of a heroine, she plunged in, and was carried along with the stream! While the police were pursuing her on the Greenyard side of the river, the people on the north side of it were not idle spectators. They ran down by the riverside and matched every motion, and some of them attempted to cross and rescue her; but, the river was too deep and rapid, and they had to desist. Others ran up to the ford, but this was before she plunged into the stream. Among those who ran, and watched on the north bank of the river, was William Ross, the husband of the pursued woman. He did not know that she had gone across, but after she came to the bank of the river, he knew it was her by her shawl. He saw her plunge into the stream, and in the twinkling of an eye, he jumped in after her; and gliding down with the current, he caught hold of her; and after great exertions and no small risk of life, he managed to bring her to land. She sunk completely beneath the surface three times before her husband reached her, but the Almighty was kind towards her and saved her most wonderfully. After she was brought to land it was thought she was dead, but in a few minutes she rallied, and her husband and others carried her home. She is the mother of six young children; and I presume, I need not state here what must be apparent to all, the state of feeling ever since in her family, and the serious consequences to the poor woman’s health.
17th. Grace Ross, aged 20 years, daughter of William Ross, Ca-Dearg, a very respectable young girl, and noted in the district for her clean and tidy appearance. as well as for her good conduct and amiable disposition. Grace had not the remotest idea. of offering resistance to any human being, and her appearance at Greenyard at all at the time was purely accidental. She was looking on, a mere spectator when a fierce-looking policeman came up and struck her a savage blow With his baton on the forehead, which felled her as if a cannonball had gone through her heart. Such was the force with which the blow was given that it mused a cut 4 inches 'long; exposing the skull, shattering the frontal bone. and carrying into the fissures pieces of the cap that was on the poor girl’s head. This blow mused concussion and compression of the brain, and for a few minutes, she lay quite insensible. After she was able to crawl, she moved away in the direction of a. wood; but, the police on noticing her came back, and began again to beat her. She was struck several times on the hack and shoulders; and being fearfully wounded by the blows she received, she mu into the river until the water reached her waist; and there she stood. The police remained at a distance watching her. Her clothing, such of it as appeared above the water, was completely red with blood; and her appearance was one of the most melancholy sights ever seen in a Christian country. At last, the police moved away. and then the poor girl got out of the river 3 but she was so exhausted that she fell prostrate upon a sandbank, and appeared as if dead. Parties who had come now to the Langwell side of the river, and seeing Grace lying on a bank on the opposite side, joined hands and plunged into the stream, and made their way over. They lifted her up and brought her over, and thence they conveyed her to her father‘s house. She is still in a dangerous state.
18th. Margaret Ross, aged 40 years, wife of Alexander Ross, Cornhill, Stmthenrron, had been in Greenyard on business; and on her way to the ford, saw a. crowd of people and ran up to them. W‘eut into the very heart of the crowd, and was quite close to the Sheriff. Heard the Sheriff say “knock them down.” Saw two women knocked down quite near her, and in a. minute after a policeman struck herself a brutal blow with a baton on the back of the head, which staggered her, and threw her off her feet. But she was seen up again and ran for her life. Two policemen, however, followed hard after her, and one of them struck her twice with his baton on the back, and the other coming along in a fury, struck her a violent blow in one of her legs, which took the skin down, and bruised and blackened it sadly. It is now in a bad state with ulcers. After this, she got several blows on the side and shoulders, and was then left, on the field for dead! She was carried off the field in the evening. This is a very bad case, where both the mental and constitutional functions of the patients are in a state of complete disorder.
19th. Ann Munro, residing at Comhill, Langwell, a stout active young woman, heard that the police were coming, and went across the river to tell the tenants. By the time that she reached over, the police were on the ground, and a crowd of women were near the march. She immediately fell into the rank, and in a minute or two she was facing the police. Ann was in the best possible humour, and asked the police why they had come out against a few females, with batons and stems, as if they were savages? She got no answer, but heard the Sheriff cry “knock them down.” The police struck right and left with their batons, and a score or two of women were thrown down. A policeman rushed at Ann, but missing his mark, he went head foremast into a drain. Another policeman came and was just aiming a blow at her head, which she prevented by catching the baton with one hand and pitching it into the river. Ann was so far successful, but three policemen now closed in upon her. and gave her some terrible blows; but all three did not succeed in putting her to the ground, and, although they pursued her like savages, they could not catch her; for the poor girl on finding herself so keenly pursued, jumped off the bank into the deepest pool in the river, and swimmer! over to the opposite side like a. duck. After reaching dry land, she shook herself and sat down to rest. The savage cowards that pursued her, could now only look on, gnash their teeth, and shake their fists at her but that was all. Ann has a very quiet and amiable look; but here she acted more like a hero than a mild, unassuming country lass.
20th. Janet Mackenzie, residing at Cornhill, Langwell, was in the heart of the crowd and in the heat of the battle, and came in contact with several of the police, yet she escaped without losing one single drop of blood. She was pummelled most unmercifully by the police; but being clever, and remarkably fast, she soon escaped out of their hands.
The foregoing is but a specimen of the barbarous treatment the women of Strathcarron received at the hands of the police force at Greenyard, on the occasion referred to many more females were cut, bruised and ill-used by the police; but it is unnecessary to give their names here. Four or five men were also brutally assaulted by the police and had their heads seriously wounded. One Waterloo man, Donald Ross, aged about 68 years, Was most shamefully treated. He was but a mere looker-on, and could not, and would not offer resistance to the police: yet they ran up to where he was, and beat him on the head with their batons—felled him to the ground; and (0h! shameful to have to record it) they kicked him on the back and on the legs after he was prostrated. The old man declares, that although he was at nine battles on the continent, he never saw such treatment of wounded soldiers or prisoners of war, as he saw of the helpless and inoffensive women of Greenyard. A young lad, George Ross, was inhumanly assaulted. When George saw the police beating some of his female relatives he interfered; but two or three policemen surrounded him, and thrashed him most cruelly with their batons, and then left him on the field with his head, face, and arms covered with blood.
Another, Donald Ross, a tenant in Amat, had a very narrow escape with his life. Two policemen attacked him, but he grasped them one by one, and in less than a minute, they were both lying on the broad of their backs in the ploughed land. Donald stood over them as they laid, but he neither lifted his hands nor used his feet to them. He acted like a. man: for it is only cowards and low sneaking savages that would strike a man or woman when down. The prostrate policemen soon however got to their feet and being joined by other two of their brethren, the whole four set upon Donald pell-mell with their batons. For some minutes he kept them at bay, with nothing but his bare arms; but, the police were too many for him: for their strong ash batons were seen breaking in splinters over his head and shoulders; and being completely exhausted by loss of blood, he fell prostrate to the ground. After the poor lad was down his inhuman assailants again assaulted him with their batons, and only left off beating him when they thought he was dead. One of the police,——a McL—, was heard shouting out, "Marbh as am b—-—r righin dubh!” After Donald had lain for some time in a pool of blood he was again beat on the head and shoulders by the police, and they only left him when they considered him quite unable to move.
A David Munro, from Culrain, was similarly treated. His head was frightfully cut, and his arms and legs were made black and blue. It took three policemen to overcome him, and it was only by beating him on the legs that they managed to bring him to the ground. The first policeman who attacked David did not master him; for the poor led, on getting a savage blow on the side of the head, seized the policeman by the middle and pitched him more than five yards from him; and there he lay sprawling on the ground. Others of the police on seeing this indignity to one of their number, came up and beat David until they considered him insensible, and then they left him. Such then is a short detail of the massacre of the Roses at Greenyard—e massacre so atrocious, and so savage in character is not on record. The fields were dotted with pools of blood.-—the dogs in the neighbourhood came and licked it up; and such was the awful nature of the scene, that Mr Munro’s brother-in-law harrowed the ground under cloud of night, to hide the blood.
I could give instances of the humiliating cowardice of the police when they were met by the females at Greenyard. They had not the courage to move on, one by one; 'but in twos and in threes; end then, when they fixed upon a victim, their savage ferocity had no bounds. It is not however too much to say that, for a fair contest, there could be found in Strathcarron two dozen men who could have thrashed all the policemen, and would have hounded them in couples and packed them out of the district. If deprived of their batons and pistols, even two or three dozen of the women of the strath could have resisted, and that successfully too, the whole police force. But neither the men nor the women, who were present at Greenyard ever contemplated any serious resistance. They met, as already stated, to question the right of the sheriff-officer serving summonses on the tenants, without either Major Robertson or Mr Munro‘s sanction. There was no preparation for such a. meeting—no preconcerted measures for resistance; therefore the police ran in among them when they were as defenceless, and as unprepared as if they were in a church. Is it then surprising, from the furious onslaught which ensued, that those defenceless, and guileless fémala were so seriously bruised and wounded? As the people of Strethcarron have been represented by some scribblers through the 1mm, and otherwise as “uncivilized”——“unruly,” and “riotous,"
I stated before, that the principal authors in this shocking tragedy at Greenyard, were two old men, one of them near 80 years of age. One would suppose then, that persons, apparently on the brink of the grave, would be fair and candid towards those tenants under them: even although they wished to remove them: am] that they Would tell them the whole truth. Alas: this was not the case here. There was a system of double-talking and deception practised towards the tenants of Greenyards fifty times more disgraceful than anything we read of in the conduct of Nicholas of Russia. Let me just give one instance of this.—Early in March last, the Rev. Mr M‘Donald of Croick, was at Tain in Easter Ross. There he met. Major Robertson, the proprietor of Greenyard, and having heard from the tenants before leaving home, that they were all to be warned out, he, (Mr M‘Donald) like an honest man, questioned the Major on the spot as to the truth of this: when he, (the major) denied out and out that he had anything to do with the removals, —-that Munro alone was the cause of them. Now, if we have not the word of a “gentleman," (using a diplomatic phase) for this, we have at any rate the word of a Major.
But let us hear the other side Mr Munro, in a letter which he Iumdcd to the people, porting to be a copy of one which he addressed to the Major and dated 6th March last:——
“I regret much that you, told the Rev Mr McDonald of Criock some days ago in Tain that you had no wish of removing; any of the tenants, and that you said it was my wish to remove them. As you are perfectly aware I have no wish for removing the people, providing you wish to keep them as it is thoroughly in your power to keep them in or turn them out as you please. I consider myself aggrieved to put the whole burden on my shoulders."
Now, we have here the two old men denying point-blank having authorized these removals, and the one laying the blame upon the other; but, what will the reader say when I state here, that some days before the Rev Mr M‘Donald met and questioned the Major, and some days before Mr Munro penned the letter from which I quoted above, both met in Tain and went together to the office of Mr D. Stewart, writer and Munro, there and then, gave in a list of all the tenants to be removed and the Major gave his concurrence, and both instructed Mr Stewart, as their agent, accordingly! Now, I ask, can a greater depth of duplicity or of wickedness than the above be conceived? Had these two old men told the truth at the outset, all would have been right The people would have known the worst at once; and they could have looked out for other places.
But in place of this, they were told, not to believe a word of the rumours that reached them; and that if a sheriff officer should come to warn them out, that he had no authority from the proprietor, or from the principal tacksman. Munro indeed, in order to give his statements all the appearance of truth. appealed to Heaven, and called his Maker to witness that he never authorized these removals. Under such a system of evasion, deception, and gross misrepresentation, is it at all surprising that the people met in such numbers, or that they questioned the authority of the sheriff-officers on the morning when they were so shockingly massacred by the order of the Sheriff. These are facts susceptible of the clearest proof, and I should like to see an ample apology made. and tho blush of shame coming over the bronzed checks of these old evictors for the disgraceful part they have acted towards these simple people. But I was prepared for all this. I knew the conduct pursued towards the Rosses of Glencalvie, by the very same parties. In 1844, the whole of the Rosses of that most interesting glen, were removed to make room for Munro's sheep.
The same kind of deception was practised; the tenants were first told they were not to be removed, but afterwards, they were desired to appear in Tain, a distance of 24 miles from them, it was said to get new leases, and to enter into new arrangements for their lands; but, when they arrived there, the only arrangement made with them was, putting summonses of removal in their hands; and when that could not be done, they were put into the folds of their plaids: and this was what they got for leases! Was not this barefaced deception? Their lands were let to Munro, months before then, still he kept them ignorant of the fact, by crafty assertion. At Whitsunday, they were all removed from
the glen. They would not get one inch of land from the Major, whereon to erect even a hut. They were not even allowed to encamp on his ground; consequently, they had to remove to the parish burying ground. Sismondi, a distinguished French author, found them among the tombs of the dead, and describes their condition as follows:—
"In 1844, 18 families, consisting of nearly 100 persons were driven away from the glen. They were not a penny in arrears of rent, not in debt; there was not a pauper among them. and they were ready to pay as much as anyone could give, for the land which they and their forefathers had occupied for centuries. But no, these lands must be converted into sheep walks. Behind the church, in the churchyard, along kind of booth was erected; the roof formed of tarpaulins, rugs, blankets, and plaids. A fire was kindled, round which the poor children clustered. Two cradles with infants in them, Were placed chase to the fire, and sheltered round by the dejected-looking mothers. Contrasted “ith the gloom) dejection ut‘ the parents and the aged. was the melancholy picture of the poor children, playing thoughtlessly around the fire. With the new poor law in prospect, cottages were everywhere refused, and at last, the people were obliged to erect their tents over the graves of their fathers! They will soon spread themselves over the country seeking employment, and by degrees will all be reduced to pauperism. This then. is the bene?t the country dc. rites from such proprietor and factors, as have owned and managed this beautiful glen."
What could the Rosses of Greenyard in 1854, expect from parties who had acted so cruel and so treacherous a part to the Rosses of Glencalvie, in 1844? What tender mercies could be looked for from such antecedents? Was there much comfort to be hoped for from an encampment in a burying ground? Or could there be much pleasure in sleeping over the ashes of the dead, and having graves for pillows? And, what was to be expected from neighbouring proprietors? Do they not look with the most frigid and ineffable contempt on every application made to them, for land, or for sites for cottages, by evicted peasantry? Now, gentle reader, put yourself in the position of these tenants, marked out for eviction, with no opening for you but the grave, or exile from your fatherland—and that after you have lived peaceably, and paid your rents honestly, as the Rosses of Greenyard had done—and then say, would not your feelings of honest indignation be aroused? Talk of Russian despotism, forsooth! Why? “Clearances” and “Evictions” are totally unknown even in Russia. No such words appear in the Russian dictionary.—-If any landholder, or even a nobleman in Russia, should act. towards his peasantry, as Major Robertson and his venerable Shiek acted towards the Rosses of Greenyard, on the 31st March last, the Emperor would send them at once to Siberia, and they would richly deserve it.
Independent of the horrid cruelties, and shameful injustice, consequent upon these reckless clearances in the north, the policy is the most-blind and reckless imaginable; and it does not require any large measure of the spirit of prophecy, to see what will be the result. Russia is breathing threatenings against Britain. A spirit of the most deadly hatred to British subjects, pervades every individual in that country, from the Emperor on his throne, to the humblest subject. The Russian peasant, as well as the Russian prince, is arming for the battle; every province, district, and township are sending in their rolls of able-bodied men, fit for fighting; and all that is at present between us and the swords of these enraged and valiant Northman, is a fleet, however powerful in steam engines, and numerous in guns. is most inadequately. and inefficiently manned, and liable not only to be destroyed by a loss ostentatious naval force; but to be rendered completely useless by stress of weather, among the intricate sandbanks, and shallow portions of an extensive, and to every sailor in our fleet, “unknown seas,” as well as by many other casualties. The British fleet, once disabled, what is to hinder the Russians some fine morning landing 10,000 soldiers on the pier under Dunrobin castle, and other 10,000 at Inverness? They can do it in three or four days from the Baltic. We have provoked all this, and much more: and how are we prepared to meet a force of this kind 7 In Sutherland-shire not one single soldier can be raised. The other week, Capt. Craigie, R.N., the Duke‘s factor, a Free Church Minister and a Moderate Minister, had been piping for days, for volunteers and recruits in that county; and yet, after many threats on the part of the factor, and sweet music on the part of the persons, the military spirit of the poor Sutherland serfs could not be raised to "fighting point.” The truth is, as the men told the persons, “we have no country to fight for: you robbed us of our country and gave it to sheep therefore, since you have preferred sheep to men, let sheep defend you."
In the Isle of Skye, which furnished 10,000 foot-soldiers, during the Peninsular wars, Captain Otter, after beating about all winter, in the lochs and bays of that magnificent island, with all sorts of music, flags, and ribbons, and tempting offers, printed in English and in Gaelic, only succeeded in getting one Skyeman to enlist; and after getting him, he found the poor wretch was not worth the keeping and dismissed him! There is no denying the fact, the military spirit is gone in the Highlands. As martial and as loyal a race of people as ever existed, have been crushed in body and soul, and you only mock them by talking to them about defending “their country." Men who cannot get any other share in their native land but the burying ground, have no country. And it is insulting the dignity of reason to say they have, or to ask men who are not allowed to defend their wives and little ones, to fight in defending any lord or laird‘s sheep and cattle. And the affair at Greenyard—on the morning of the 31st March last, is not calculated to inspire much love of country or rouse the martial spirit of the already ill-used Highlanders. The savage treatment of innocent females on that morning, by an enraged body of police, throws the Sinope butchery into the shade: for the Ross-shire, Haynaus have shown themselves more-cruel, and more blood-thirsty than the Austrian women floggers. What could these poor men and women—with their wounds and scars and broken bones, and disjointed arms, stretched on beds of sickness, or moving on crutches, the result of the brutal treatment of them by the police at Greenyard, have to dread from the invasion of Scotland by Russia? Nothing whatever. The poor Highlanders cannot
any longer be caught with chaff, however subtlely it may he laid for them, by clergymen and others. They have no encouragement nor inducement to enter the army or navy or to strike a. single blow in defence of a country that refuses to own or defend them.
Let me illustrate this.—There is among those warned out at Greenyard a George Ross, aged eighty years. He was in the '85th Regiment, and entered the army in 1793—was 18 years in the West Indies and in America—was in no less than ten engagements during the 29 years he was in the Army. He pays L13 of rent—has a wife and six children; and is not one farthing in arrears: yet he must leave his house and lands on the 28th of May, and he has not, at this moment, any place under heaven whereon he can pitch even a tent— for a night, but the burying ground. Old George will not get one inch of ground in his native country, although he spent the best 29 years of his life in fighting its battles. This is a fact, and I unhesitatingly say that it is a deep disgrace to the owners of the land, and to the Government of this country.