Letter 21., pp.51-54.

I beg leave, by way of conclusion, to take a retrospective glance of some of the occurrences that preceded the violent expulsion of my family, as described in my two last letters, and our final retirement from the country of our nativity.

For reasons before alleged, nothing could have given more satisfaction to the factors, clergy, and all the Jacks-in-office under them, than a final riddance of that troublesome man, Donald McLeod; and hence their extreme eagerness to make an example of him, to deter others from calling their proceedings in question. I mentioned in letter [19] that on being unjustly and illegally imprisoned, and decerned to pay money I did not owe, I prepared and forwarded a memorial to the noble proprietors (the then Marquis and Marchioness of Stafford), setting forth the hardships of my case, and praying for investigation, alleging that I would answer any accusation of my enemies, by undeniable testimonials of honest and peaceful character. This memorial was returned with the deliverance that Mr. Loch, on his next visit to Sutherland, would examine into my case and decide. I then set about procuring my proposed certificate preparatory to the investigation, but here I found myself baffled and disappointed in a quarter from which I had no reason to expect such treatment. I waited on my parish minister, the Rev. Mr. McKenzie, requesting him to give me a certificate, and then, after him I could obtain the signatures of the elders and as many of the other parishoners as might be necessary. He made no objection at the time, but alleging that he was then engaged, said I could send my wife for it. I left directions with her accordingly, and returned to my work. The same night the factor (my pretended creditor and judge) had the minister and his family to spend the evening with him, and the consequence was that in the morning a messenger was dispatched from his reverence to my wife, to say, that she need not take the trouble of calling for the certificate, as he had changed his mind! Some days after, I returned and waited on the Rev. gentleman to inquire the cause of this change. I had great difficulty in obtaining an audience, and when at last I did, it was little to my satisfaction. His manner was contemptuous and forbidding; at last he told me that he could not give me a certificate as I was at variance with the factor; that my conduct was unscriptural, as I obeyed not those set in authority over me, &c. I excused and defended myself as well as I could, but all went for nothing, and at last he ordered me to be off, and shut the door in my face. This took place in June, 1830, and Mr. Loch was not expected till the September following, during which interval I had several re-encounters with the minister. Many of his elders and parishoners pleaded and remonstrated with him on my behalf, well knowing that little attention would be paid in high quarters to my complaints however just, without his sanction; and considerable excitement prevailed in the parish about this dispute, but the minister remained immoveable. Meantime the parish schoolmaster mentioned in confidence to one of the elders (who was a relation of my wife, and communicated it to us) that my case was already decided by Mr. Loch, though a sham trial would take place; that he had been told this, and he had it from good authority, and that the best thing I could do was to leave the place entirely. I could not believe this, but the result proved the truth of it. Matters continued in the same way till Mr. Loch’s arrival, when I ventured to repeat my request to the minister, but found him still more determined, and I was dismissed with more than usual contempt. I then got a certificate prepared myself, and readily obtained the signatures of the elders and neighbouring parishoners to the amount of several hundreds, which I presented to Mr. Loch, along with the before mentioned memorial, when the following dialogue took place between that gentleman and me in presence of the factors, &c.

Mr. Loch. – Well, Mr. McLeod, why don’t you pay this £5 8s. you were summoned for?
Donald. – Just, Sir, because I don’t consider myself entitled to pay it. I hold legal receipts to show that I paid it two years ago; besides, that it a case to be legally decided before a competent court, and has no connexion with my memorial.
Mr. L. – Will you pay it altogether or by instalments, if you are allowed to remain on the estate?
D. – Let the case be withdrawn from the civil court or decided by the civil magistrate, before I answer that question.
Mr. L. – Well, can you produce the certificate of character mentioned in this memorial?
I handed over to him the certificate mentioned above, with three or four sheets full of names attached to it. He look at it for some time (perhaps surprised at the number of signatures) and then said, –
Mr. L. – I cannot see the minister’s name here, how is this?
D. – I applied to the minister and he would not sign it.
Mr. L. – Why?
D. – He stated as his reason that I was at variance with the factors.
One of the factors. – That is a falsehood.
Mr. L. – I will wait upon Mr. McKenzie on the subject.
D. – Will you allow me, sir, to meet you and Mr. McKenzie face to face, when he is asked to give his reasons?
Mr. L. – Why will you not believe what he says?
D. – I have got too much reason to doubt it; but if he attempts to deny what I have stated, I hope you will allow him to be examined on oath?
Mr. L. – By no means, we must surely believe the minister.

After asking me some further questions which had nothing to do with the matter in hand, he dismissed me in seeming good humour.

I pressed to know his decision in my case, but he said, you will get to know it before I leave the country; make yourself easy, I will write to your parish minister in a few days. The result was the cruel expulsion of my family and the spoliation of my goods, as detailed in my two last letters.

Mr. Loch in his judgement on my case, alleged as his principal reason for punishing me that Mr. McKenzie denied my assertions in regard to himself, and represented me as a turbulent character.

During our temporary residence at Armidale, I took an opportunity of again waiting on the Rev. gentleman when he was catechising in a neighbouring fishing village with several of his elders in company, and asked to speak with him in their presence. He attempted to meet me outside the door, but I pushed in when the elders were sitting at breakfast; saying, “no sir, I wish what passes between you and me to be before witnesses. I want a certificate of my moral character, or an explanation from you before your elders why it is withheld.” Here my worthy friend Donald McDonald (the preserver of my wife’s life on the memorable night of her expulsion) interfered and expostulated with his reverence, who driven into a corner, found no excuse for refusal, except that he had not writing materials convenient. I directly met this objection by producing the articles required, yet, strange to say, he found means to shuffle the business over by a solemn promise, in presence of his elders, to do it on a certain mentioned day. I waited on him that day, and after long delay was admitted into his parlour and accosted with, “Well McLeod, I am not intending to give you a certificate.” “Why so, sir?” “Because you have told falsehoods of me to Mr. Loch, and I cannot certify for a man that I know to be a liar:” adding “Donald, I would favour you on your father’s account, and much more on your father-in-law’s account, but after what you have said of me, I cannot.” I repelled the charge of being a liar, and said “I do believe that if my father and father-in-law, whom you have mentioned with so much respect, stood at the gate of Heaven seeking admittance, and nothing to prevent them but a false accusation on the part of some of the factors, you would join in refusing their entrance to all eternity.” He rose up and said, “you are a Satan and not fit for human society.” I retired for that time; but ultimately forced him, by incessant applications, to write and sign the following:-

    “This certifies that the bearer. DONALD McLEOD, is a native of this parish a married man, free from church censure; therefore he, his wife and family may be admitted as Gospel hearers wherever Providence may order their lot.
                                                                                  Given at Farr Manse.                                                          (Signed)

Previous to granting this certificate the minister proposed to bind me up not to use it to the prejudice of the Marquis of Stafford, or any of his factors! This point, however, he did not carry, for when he submitted it to the session he was overruled by their votes.

This concludes the narrative of what I have myself suffered at the hands of the petty tyrants whom I had enraged by denouncing their barbarous treatment of my countrymen, and whose infamous deeds I have had the satisfaction of exposing to public reprobation. I shall not resume the pen on this subject unless I see that what I have written requires to be followed up to prevent a continuation of such atrocities as are already recorded. I am a Highlander, and must have revenge for the wrongs I have suffered. The revenge I desire is that these letters may be preserved for many a day in my native country, to keep up the remembrance of the evil that was done to many an innocent individual, and among others to

DONALD McLEOD.

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