history

History & Genealogy

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Homecomers: Please contact Lawrence MacEwen who would be happy to talk to you and show you around (tel - 01687 460057 or email jennymacewen@hotmail.co.uk

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Below is a short summary about the history of the island. For a more detailed account of the islands history please refer to the ‘Isle of Muck Guide Book’, and visit www.islemuck.com , a dedicated website created by Catriona and Anne White who have extensively researched the history and genealogy of the island.

It is believed that Muck was occupied during Mesolithic times, and a dagger and a number of burial cairns have also been found which date back to the Bronze Age. The population of the island reached a peak at the beginning of the 19th century and by 1821 the population had reached 320. During this time the MacLeans, who owned the island were badly in dept, and in bad years they were providing meal to Rum, and possibly Muck too, as the population was now so high.

In 1828 the MacLeans evicted Muck and 150 people travelled on the St Lawrence from Tobermory to Cape Breton. The remaining population was allowed to build houses in the village above Port Mor and tried to make a living by fishing. However, by 1835 they had either emigrated or migrated elsewhere in Scotland.

In 1836 sheep were introduced for the first time. The island was then let to James Thorburn in 1845 and he installed a threshing mill, and reputedly ploughed the whole island. The big pier at Port Mor was also built as was the road.

In 1878 Muck was let to David Weir, who developed a dairy farm making cheese, which was when the dairy, midden and bothy beside Gallanach were built.

In 1896 Muck was sold to Robert Lawrie Thomson, who owned Eigg, and Strathaird Estate on Skye. He made his money in shipbuilding and armaments manufacturing. Robert Lawrie Thomson died in 1913, and Muck was left to his older brother, John MacEwen. Unfortunately John died in 1916, and left Muck to his nephew, Lieutenant William Ivan Lawrence MacEwen, who left the Navy and trained at the East of Scotland Agricultural College, and took over the farm in 1922.

In 1939 W.I.L MacEwen was recalled to the navy to fight in WW2. His wife, Edith, took over the running of the farm. After the war, the Department of Agriculture paid for half the cost of a modernisation scheme, which included water being piped into every house, and Rayburn cookers being installed. Tilley lamps lit the houses.

In 1967 Commander MacEwen died and the farm passed to his eldest son, Alasdair, who farmed the island before moving to the main land. The farm was taken over by his brother, Lawrence, who farms the island to this day along with his son Colin. Lawrence’s younger brother, Ewen, returned to the island in the early 1970s, building and establishing Port Mor House.

Scheduled Ancient Monuments:
The Royal Commission has scheduled five sites for ancient monuments:

history