I will not attempt a description of the trial here. All I will do is list the individual cases considered during the course of the trial, as follows:
• Donald MacKay, about 80 years old, after being turned out of his house was forced to lie in the nearby woods for several nights "to his great distress and to the danger of his life".
• Barbara MacKay, who was pregnant and confined to bed after a fall, was compelled to leave her house. She was carried a mile across country "to the imminent danger of her life".
• Donald Munro, a boy who was sick in bed, was forced out of his house, and his health was thereby endangered.
• Donald MacBeth was "culpably killed". He was suffering cancer of the face, and was unable to move from his bed. When MacBeth's son pleaded with Sellar to spare the house for a few days Sellar's reply, it was alleged, was "De'il a ane of them shall remain." He ordered his house to be demolished, leaving only "a small space of roof". Donald MacBeth died a few days later.
• Margaret MacKay, mother-in-law to William Chisholm. Her fate was briefly described earlier.
The jury took fifteen minutes to consider their verdict. They decided that Patrick Sellar should be acquitted.
Within a few months Sellar had taken steps to remove from his land those people who had been allowed to stay in 1814. Again I will take the liberty of quoting Donald MacLeod, who wrote: "I have seen scores of these poor outcasts, employed for weeks together, with the snow from two to four feet deep, watching their corn being devoured by the hungry sheep of the incoming tenant; carrying on their backs, horses being unavailable, across a country without roads, on an average of twenty miles to their new allotments on the sea coast, any portion of their grain and potatoes they could secure."
The Countess and the Marquis had followed the trial with interest. No doubt they were relieved by its outcome, which they would have taken as a signal to proceed with further clearances. They had, however, been alarmed by the public relations disasters that had occurred under the management of Young and Sellar. In 1816 they appointed James Loch to take over as Commissioner in charge of the operation, and he in turn appointed a new assistant, James Suther.
In The Highland Clearances Eric Richards has quoted several letters from Loch that illustrate his new approach. With Suther he began to plan a series of clearances in the upper part of Strathnaver, intended to take place in 1819. In a letter to Suther he wrote: "Let me beseech you don't do it in too great a hurry, but give them time and not only let them know their new lots as soon as possible but their new rents also which make as moderate as your duty to the proprietor and the real interest of the tenant will permit. When you find any obstinacy in those who are to be moved and who owe money you can manage by shewing them if they go quietly they may both get a cheaper lot and be excused their arrears."
It is evident that Loch wished to give people to be evicted more information, more time to prepare, and additional inducements. They were in fact told that they could occupy their present holdings rent free for a year until Whit Sunday 1819, and during that same year have access to their new allotments rent free. In spite of some softening of approach, however, Loch was no less determined than Young and Sellar to bring about total evacuation of the designated areas.
Loch may not have anticipated that on this occasion the proposed evacuations would be opposed by a local minister, Rev David MacKenzie. MacKenzie wrote at length to Loch arguing that it would be wrong to move more people to the coast. Those already living on the coast were suffering great deprivation, and there was little or no suitable land still available for any additional population. He went on: "I candidly submit to you, with all deference, I am persuaded that the great population to be removed at Whitsunday 1819 from the upper parts to the sea coast of the Parish, cannot, if left to depend for subsistence on the production of their new Stances, have a comfortable living, and from this persuasion I cannot attempt to persuade the people that the change will be for their advantage."
Loch sent an immediate reply to MacKenzie. In his view the people would be better off living on the coast, and he added: "I hope you will assure the people not to deceive themselves by thinking that the plan can or will be changed and that therefore they must make best use of the ensuing summer."