Plantation and Civility in the North Atlantic World

The Case of the Northern Hebrides, 1570-1639


The settlement of the Hebrides is usually considered in terms of the state formation agenda. Yet the area was subject to successive attempts at plantation, largely overlooked in historical narrative. Aonghas MacCoinnich’s study, Plantation and Civility, explores these plantations against the background of a Lowland-Highland cultural divide and competition over resources. The Macleod of Lewis clan, ‘uncivil’, Gaelic Highlanders, were dispossessed by the Lowland, ‘civil,’ Fife Adventurers, 1598-1609. Despite the collapse of this Lowland Plantation, however, the recourse to the Mackenzie clan, often thought a failure of policy, was instead a pragmatic response to an intractable problem. The Mackenzies also pursued the civility agenda treating with Dutch partners and fending off their English rivals in order to develop their plantation.
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Biographical Note

Aonghas MacCoinnich, Ph. D (2005), is a researcher at the University of Glasgow. He has published a number of articles on aspects of the history, culture and language of the early modern Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

Table of contents

Contents Acknowledgements xi List of Illustrations xiv List of Maps xv Abbreviations xvi Conventions xx 1 The Conditions for Plantation. The Scottish Context Pre 1598 1 Introduction 1 Highlands and Lowlands – Cultural and Linguistic Divergence 3 From Barbarity to Civility 11 Hume et al & Civility 16 Winning Hearts and Minds 17 Tribalism vs Civility? The Example of the Adventurers 19 Personal Qualities 20 Civilitie and the Mackenzie Clan 23 Fisheries 25 Conclusion 27 2 The Lordship of the Macleods of Lewis 30 Introduction 30 Macleod’s Family 32 The Ewill Trowbles of the Lewis 34 The Macleods of Lewis and the Old Order 37 Rebellion, 1502–1538 45 The Extension of Royal Control and its Consequences 47 A Dysfunctional Family? Three Torcaills, 1566 and all that 57 The Wars of the ‘Bastards’? The ‘Ewill Trowbles’ of Lewis 65 The Macleods of Lewis and the Wider World 71 Trained for War? The Irish Dimension 74 Forfeiture and Plantation 80 Niall Odhar, the Brieves, Forts and Duin 83 Duin – Contexts 87 Conclusion 90 3 The Fife Adventurers and the Plantation of Lewis, 1598–1609 91 Introduction 91 The Lead-up to Plantation: From 1587 to 1598 95 ‘Natives’ and their Relations with the Planters 106 ‘Articlis to be Contracted amongst the Societie of the Lewis’ 108 Ministers, Religion and the Sabbath 112 Building a Civil Town 118 Buildings and Fortifications in the Plantation 124 1607–1609, Highland Policy & the Third Attempt 132 The Planters and the Mackenzies 137 The Working Plantation: The Potential for Success 141 Victuals, Grain and the Vulnerable Supply Line 145 Agricultural Potential 149 Relations with the Natives: Divide and Rule? 151 The Aftermath for the Planters 164 Plantation: Transferrable Skills 170 Participation, Identity and Casualty Rates? 171 Conclusion 174 4 The Mackenzies and Their Plantation of Lewis 176 Introduction 176 Civility, Plantation, Royal Policy and Clan Mackenzie 176 The Acquisition of Lewis 185 The Wider Gaelic World and the Broader Hebridean Context 188 The Mackenzies and the Settlement of the Northern Hebrides 194 The Financial Implications of Plantation 202 The Costs of Accommodation with the New Regime 209 The Last of the Free 213 Fir Innse Gall 214 Backs to the Wall – The End of the Macleods of Lewis 218 The New Order 224 Handling the Land 229 Building a Plantation 236 The Church 238 Winning Hearts and Minds? 244 Eirthir nan Iasg – the Mackenzies in Lewis after 1610 248 Conclusion 254 5 The Mackenzie and the Dutch, 1628–1631 258 Introduction 258 Highland Contacts and Networks 260 Mackenzie Commercial Initiatives & Dutch Contacts 262 Scottish Opposition to Seaforth’s Dutch Enclave 279 Lord Lorne and Scottish Opposition to Seaforth’s Schemes 283 Conclusion 287 6 The English in the Isles and the British Fishery Company 290 Introduction 290 English Antecedence in the Hebrides 291 King James and English in the Isles, 1603–1610 294 Monson, Mason and their Early Experiences in the Hebrides 298 Captain Mason and the Assize Fishing of the North Isles 299 Mason’s Career: Piracy, Plantation and Naval Procurement 302 Building a Fleet: Timber and Iron 308 The Emergence of the English interest and the British Fishery 310 Mare Liberum? 310 Ideology or Prejudice? Sir William Monson and Civility 312 English Mercantile Connections with the Netherlands? 316 English Plantation in Stornoway: Maps and Descriptions 321 The Earls of Seaforth and the English 327 Anglo-Scottish Tension in the Hebrides from 1634 329 Conclusion 334 7 Conclusion 336 Appendices 365 A1 A Description of the Lewis Fisheries, c. 1631 (Part 1) 365 A2 A Description of the Lewis Fisheries, 1631 (Part 2) 367 B1 Some Siol Torcaill Family Relationships, 1572 369 C1 The Principal Adventurers in Lewis, 1598–1609 370 C2 The Minister’s Account of the Plantation of Lewis, c. 1607 370 C3 Contract Signed by the Portioners of Lewis, 1600 381 C4 Non-‘Native’ Persons, Stornoway, 1598–1609 386 C5 The Known un-Knowns in Lewis, 1598–1609 399 C6 Some Financial Transactions of the Forrets of Fingask, 1598–1609 401 C7 Associates of and Witnesses for the Forrets of Fingask, 1598–1609 403 C8 Some Financial Transactions of James Spens of Wormiston, 1598–1609 405 C9 Witnesses and Sureties for James Spens of Wormiston, 1598–1609 407 C10 Some Debts Owed by the Learmonths of Balcomie, 1599–1606 409 C11 Some Debts of Robert Lumsden of Airdrie, 1599–1606 410 C12 Some Debts Owed by the Anstruther Family, 1598–1609 412 C13 Fish and the Economy of ‘Cost Syde’ Towns of Fife, 1569–1599 413 D1 Gaelic Poem by Alasdair mac Mhurchaidh, c. 1636 × 1643 415 D2 The Merchants and Fishers of Lewis 1632–34 420 D3 Table – Fishermen & Merchants in Lewis, 1634 421 D4 Some References to Lewis Trade in the Aberdeen Shore Work Accounts, 1623–37 422 D5 Land and People in Lewis, 1610–1718 424 D6 Fishermen, Merchants and Visitors to Lewis, 1609–1669 447D7 Merchants, Burgesses & Lewis Contacts, 1620–1642 452 D8 The Penny Lands of Lewis, c. 1754 455 E1 Commission of Factory, Seaforth to Hamilton, 1628 461 E2 Memorandum, for Dutch Negotiations, c.1628–29 462 E3 Contract, Seaforth and the Zeeland Merchants, 1629 464 E4 Dutch Fishermen in Lewis, 1629 469 E5 Conditions for the Hollanders. No Date, 1629 × 1630 470 E6 Memorandum anent the Hollanders. No Date, 1629 × 1630 473 E7 Mr Bernard Mackenzie & the Lewis Company, 1631 475 F1 Englishmen Present in Lewis, 1630–42 480 F2 Raising Stock for the Company of Lewis, n.d., c.1629–31 485 F3 The Appointment of Captain Mason, n.d., c.1629–31 487 F4 The Projected Costs of a Fishing Bus Fleet, n.d., c.1629–31 487 F5 Calculations of Profit and Loss, the Fishing Fleet, n.d., c.1629–31 489 F6 ‘Plantation of Fishing on the Islands of Scotland’ n.d., c.1629–31 489 F7 Memorandum Regarding English Strategic Interest in the Fisheries, n.d., c.1629–31 494 F8 Description of the Island of Lewis, November 1629 497 F9 Anglo-Scottish Tension at Stornoway, 1634–35 500 F10 Shareholders in the British Fishery Company, 1635 502 G1 Note on Language Choice & Nomenclature 505 G2 Glossary of Scots Gaelic and Scots Terms 507 G3 Gaelic Personal Names and their English Alias 509 Bibliography 511 Unpublished Primary Sources 511 Published Primary Sources 515 Published Secondary Sources 525 Unpublished Dissertations 549 Works of Reference 549 Index 551


All interested in the history of plantation and state formation in the Atlantic world and anyone interested in clanship, civility and Dutch, English, Highland-lowland interaction in early modern Gaelic Scotland.