Neil McInnes lives on the New South Wales North Coast where he indulges in his three main loves…fishing, golf and writing.
The Young Highlander
‘Land of Promise’
stately ships came sailing
every harbours mouth,
sought the Land of Promise
beaconed in the south.
The first clear memory William Macleod had of his
journey were the docks at Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull. The vision of so many
huge sailing ships, their masts reaching into the morning mist, would remain
with Will for the rest of his life. Sitting
astride the broad shoulders of his father he stared, open mouthed, at the masses
of people leaving for distant places, farewelled by distraught and anxious
families. For a five-year-old child the whole scene was both exciting and
had only vague recollections of the land of his birth, and that mainly involved
incidents of upheaval, moving from one location to another. During this period
his memories were of his mother, whom he clung to desperately for security and
reassurance. Despite her brave and determined efforts Will could sense his
mother’s fear and desperation as the family became victims of the notorious
father, Robert Macleod, was a farmer, who tended his herd of sheep on a small
island off the mainland of Moidart. He was shepherd, as was his father before
him. His family had made their meagre living from this area, their ancestral
home, for hundreds of years.
the help of government officials, landlords had begun clearing their Highlander
tenants from the lands they had farmed for generations. Their action had been
well planned. It not only forced out the troublesome Highland Scots from the
area; it enabled their ruthless landlords to run their own stock of Highland
cattle and large herds of black faced sheep.
years earlier Robert and his family were removed to a coastal town on the
mainland. Without any prospect of regular work Robert, like so many of his
countrymen, was given a choice. Emigrate or starve. The government’s cruel and
unjust clearance plan had worked. Now thousands of Highlanders, dispossessed of
their ability to earn a living, were forced to leave their homeland and emigrate
to North America, or to the colonies.
was the lot of Robert Macleod and his family, now leaving their beloved country
to seek a new life in Australia. The
voyage documents recorded that William was the youngest child of Robert and Anne
Macleod, of Moidart, Invernesshire. He had a seven-year-old sister Julia and the
eldest sister, Kate, was nine. And so, on the 16th September, In the
year of our Lord, 1842, the Macleod family left their beloved Scottish Highlands
and sailed for Sydney on the 460-ton barque, ‘George Fyfe’.
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