Abandoned Communities ..... Strathcarron
Elizabeth Ross, aged 22, was struck violently on the head with a baton, and kicked on the breast and shoulders while lying on the ground. She sustained a deep cut on the crown of her head. Part of her frontal and parietal bones were broken, and she had suffered concussion and compression of the brain. There was another very deep cut running across her head in the other direction. She had severe bruises on her arms and shoulders, and the marks of the policemen’s boots were visible on her breast and shoulders. Her clothing was completely red with blood. Pieces of her scalp had been stripped off, and quantities of her long hair, clotted with blood, could be seen on the ground where she fell. Donald Ross, who recorded his observations two weeks after the incident, did not expect Elizabeth Ross to survive.

Christina Ross, aged 50, was the wife of John Ross, one of the tenants of Greenyard, and the mother of eight children. She wanted to ask Mr Taylor whether he had written authority from Alexander Munro, and she was the first person to meet him. She tried to speak, but was not listened to, and within a minute she had three batons beating on her head. Her cap was cut through, and her face, breast, and shoulders were red with blood. She received a kick on the back of her head, and other serious cuts and bruises on other parts of her body. After she had lain on the ground for half an hour she was arrested by the police, and detained in jail. According to Donald Ross she was now insane.

Grace Ross, aged 20 (according to Donald Ross, but actually 21), lived at a house called Cawdearg just outside the Greenyard estate. She was watching as a spectator when a policeman came up to her and struck her a savage blow with his baton on her forehead. She collapsed immediately. The blow caused a cut four inches long, exposed the skull, shattered the frontal bone, and carried into the fissures pieces of the cap that was on her head. For a few minutes Grace lay unconscious, but then she tried to crawl away towards a wood. The police noticed her, and started beating her again on the back and shoulders. She ran into the river and stood there with the water up to her waist. Eventually the police moved away from her, and she came out of the river, falling prostrate on the bank. People on the northern bank held hands and waded across towards her. They carried her across the river and took her back to Cawdearg.

Grace Ross subsequently made a good recovery. She married and brought up a family, and lived at Cawdearg for the rest of her life. She died on 14 May 1913, a month before her 82nd birthday. One of her descendants, Alastair McIntyre, Grace’s great grandson, still lives there today. He told me that Grace used to demonstrate her injury by placing a button in the depression on top of her head.

Back to the main story. Taylor and his men proceeded to serve removal summonses on the tenants of Greenyard. They then went to the house of the tacksman Alexander Munro, and drank whiskey with him. Meanwhile the police arrested four of the women, all of whom were badly injured, and put them in handcuffs. They were taken into custody, on the grounds that they had been ringleaders in the rioting and mobbing.

Two days later the four arrested women were released on bail. Subsequently only one of them, Ann Ross, was charged, together with a man called Peter Ross, alias Bain. There is no evidence that Peter Ross had taken part in the confrontation on 31 March, but he had been involved in the “deforcement” of Sheriff-officer William MacPherson on 7 March. Ann Ross and Peter Ross were accused of mobbing and rioting, breach of the peace, and assault on officers of the law in execution of their duty. They pleaded guilty to a breach of the peace, and the other charges were dropped. They were duly found guilty of the single charge. Ann Ross was sentenced to 12 months in prison, Peter Ross to 18 months with hard labour.

John Prebble has quoted part of the concluding remarks made to the court by the judge, Lord Justice Hope: “You are aware that there exists a singular and perverted feeling of insubordination in some districts of the Highlands against the execution of civil processes in the removal of tenants. This feeling is most prejudicial to the interest of all, and it is absolutely necessary to suppress it.”

If you wish to explore Strathcarron you can travel along it from Ardgay on single track roads on either side of the river. You will pass through some superb scenery.

For anyone inclined to make the journey on foot a useful guide will be found on a website produced by John Butler. John Butler himself walked through the valley on his way from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Croick church can be found about a mile west of a conspicuous telephone box at the junction with the road leading to Amat and Glencalvie. The church is left open to visitors.

If you get a good picture of the messages on the east window please send a copy of it to me.
Grace Ross