Tag Archives: crimes


Digitised copy of a Report of Enquiries made regarding Donald Sinclair, 20 August 1886.

Donald Sinclair was a joiner and Chairman of the Land Law Reform Association and one of the six arrested crofters who were taken to Inveraray. The report details how Sinclair was convicted on charges of theft in October 1877 and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, after breaking into a spirit shop at 55 London Street, Glasgow, and stealing beer or porter, champagne and gin.

Enclosed is a copy of a statement made by Neil MacKinnon (24 Raglan Street, Glasgow), a childhood friend of Sinclair. MacKinnon provides details of Sinclair’s good character, particularly following his time in prison, and claims that Sinclair is now an evangelist, teaches Sunday School and preaches, and that he is a fluent speaker in Gaelic on religious and political subjects. MacKinnon also provides details of Sinclair’s marriage to the daughter of ‘the largest merchant in Tiree’. The following people gave evidence on behalf of Sinclair: Mr McIntyre (publican), Mr McKechnie (the contractor), John McDonald (watchman), Donald McKechnie (contractor’s foreman). Apart from the publican, these were all natives of Tiree.

From the archives of the Dukes of Argyll at Inveraray Castle, made available through the Written in the Landscape project.



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.



Hardback book `The Wreckers` by Bella Bathurst.

An examination of the myths, realities and superstitions of shipwrecks covering three hundred years of history.


1858 Balemartine fishing tragedy

Transcription of the witness statements for the inquest into the loss of four Tiree fishermen in April 1858.

Courtesy of Argyll & Bute Archives

On 30th April 1858 four fishermen, Donald MacLean and Alexander MacFarlane from Heylipol and John MacLean and Archibald MacArthur from Balinoe, were drowned in a great gale. They had left the port at Balemartine early that morning in calm, clear weather and headed for the fishing banks between Hynish and Skerryvore.

The wind began to blow in the afternoon. Other fishermen in the area saw them lifting their lines and reported that they were the last to leave the fishing grounds and head for home. The wind and tide were against them and they failed to reach the shore. Their boat was only 14 feet in length.

Charles Campbell, another Balemartine fisherman, set out a few days later when the storm had abated to search for the bodies. He found no trace of the boat or her crew in Colonsay, Islay or Iona.


Audio cassette recording of Dr John MacInnes Giving a talk in An Iodhlann in 2000.

Dr John MacInnes of the School of Scottish Studies talks in 2000 about the reasons he finds Tiree so memorable and about Donald Sinclair (Dòmhnall Chaluim Bhain) of Balephuil, his knowledge of genealogy, his second-sight, his turn of phrase, songs and their tunes, Gaelic hymns and the stories he told about Fionn, Oscar and Diarmid, historical legends and Icelandic sagas, the Campbells of Appin and the murder of Colin Campbell. (Continued on AC203)


Paperback booklet `Highland Smugglers` by Francis Thompson.

A short account of smuggling in the Highlands


Newsletter `An Tirisdeach`, Autumn 1985 (2 copies).

Local news including the arrival of BT engineer Jim MacNaughton and family, also Malcolm O`Dea (Radar Station) and family, the upgrading of townships roads, the deterioration of the mains water, information on AI, sheep fecundity and unltrasonic scanning by vet Pat Boyd, RAF 518 Squadron reunion, article by Argyll & Bute Archivist Murdo MacDonald, school news, unemployment benefit, article about Rev. Donald MacCallum and a poem both in Gaelic by Neil Brownlie, Tiree Association, the history of Cornaig mill and a contribution from Rev George Donaldson.