Tag Archives: kelp

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Petition from Poor Persons in Tyree for Aid to Emigrate

Transcription of a petition for assistance to emigrate appended to ‘Crofts and Farms in the Hebrides’ by the 8th Duke of Argyll.

This petition was sent in 1851 to Sir John MacNeill, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors for the Relief of the Poor in Scotland. Sir John was married to a daughter of the 8th Duke of Argyll, who appended the petition to his ‘Crofts and Farms in Hebrides’ addressed to the Napier Commission of 1883.

A hundred and thirty-six islanders signed the petition. Ninety-nine of them were landless cottars; the remainder were small tenants, of whom only four paid rent over £10 a year. They represented the class of islanders that the Duke was anxious to clear from his estate.

Around a third of the petitioners were given assistance to emigrate with their families on board the ‘Conrad’, ‘Birman’ and ‘Onyx’ in July 1851. Another twenty-seven families from the island left with them.


Photocopy of book extract `Parish of Tiry` by Rev. Archibald McColl.

Description of the geography of Tiree, its wildlife, minerals, antiquities, climate, diseases, population, fuel, manufactures and fishery, livestock, agriculture, the character and customs of the people, the poor, schools, emigration, ferries, churches.


Photocopy of book `Argyll Estates Instructions` edited by Eric Cregeen.

The instructions given by John, the 5th Duke of Argyll to his Chamberlain in Mull and Morvern and his Chamberlain in Tiree with an introduction by Eric Cregeen.


Booklet `The Changing Role of the House of Argyll in the Scottsih Highlands` by Eric Cregeen.

Assessment of the role of the house of Argyll in the Highlands between 1680 and 1806. Front cover inscribed `With best wishes, Eric Cregeen`.


Kelp ridge at the foot of Kennavara.

Photograph of an old kelp ridge at the foot of Kennavara.


Kelp is a general name for long-stemmed brown seaweeds, of which, it is estimated, there are over 300,000 tonnes around the shores of Tiree. Its ashes were a rich source of the soda and potash needed to make soap and glass, and to bleach linen.

During the Napoleonic Wars, Britain was unable to import alkalis from Spain and the price for kelp ash soared from £2 to £12 a ton. The estate encouraged people to come to Tiree to work in the booming industry and the population reached 4,450 in 1831.

Kelp was cut with a sickle from the rocks at spring low tides, dried on stone ridges by the shore and then burnt in the summer in long U-shaped pits. These ridges and pits can still be seen around the shore, particularly at Craiginnis, and between Kennavara and Traigh Bhì.

Colour photograph of kelp-drying ridge at Kennavara.

Old ridge at the foot of Kennavara once used to dry kelp.

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