Police report on the theft of peats

Transcription of a police report on the theft of peats from the Tiree peat moss in the Ross of Mull in 1860.

Courtesy of Argyll & Bute Archives

In 1801 the 5th Duke of Argyll instructed his chamberlain of Tiree: ‘No peats to be allowed to crofters from the mosses in the island, which are nearly exhausted, but coals must be imported…They can be allowed to take peats from Ross in Mull if they chuse.’

In the previous century the people of Tiree had frequently resorted to the peat mosses in the Ross of Mull for their fuel, a practice that continued, some say, until the beginning of the 20th century. The men and boys would sail over to the Ross in the spring to cut and stack the peats, returning later in the year to ferry the dried peats back to Tiree.

In 1860 Effy MacKinnon of Ardtun appeared before Sheriff Robertson in Tobermory charged with stealing peats belonging to Gilbert MacDonald of Balemartine. She was found guilty and sentenced to six days imprisonment.


Object Details

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Peat theft in 1860

The police report of July 1860 against Effy MacKinnon MacDonald for the theft of peats from a stack belonging to Gilbert MacDonald of Balemartine at the Ardtun Peat Moss in the Ross of Mull. Very little peat occurred naturally on Tiree, and so the Duke of Argyll allocated crofters areas of peat mosses on his estates on Mull. Tiree folk sailed their small boats across to Mull in the summer to cut their peats into blocks and stack them to dry.

Normal Location: Filing Cabinet 9: drawer 1
Current Location: normal location

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