Small Isles

   SMALL ISLES, a parish, partly in the county of Inverness, but chiefly in the district of Mull, county of Argyll; containing the island of Eigg in the former, and the islands of Canna, Muck, and Rum in the latter, county; and having 993 inhabitants. This place anciently formed part of the parish of Sleat, from which it was severed in 1726, by act of the General Assembly, and erected into a distinct parish. The parish, on its separation, took the name of Eigg, from the island of Eigg, where its minister had his principal residence, but subsequently received its present name, by which it is more generally known, from the several islands of which it consists, and of each of which a minute description is given under its own head. The surface and the soil, with the various other features of the parish, vary greatly in the different islands, where of some are more or less adapted for tillage, and others for pasture; some contain considerable tracts of low and level lands, and others are rather hilly and mountainous. The principal employment of the inhabitants is the rearing of sheep and black-cattle, and the making of a small quantity of kelp from the abundance of sea-weed which is found on the coasts, and which is also used as manure. Cod, ling, and other kinds of white-fish, are taken off the coasts; and during the season, several of the inhabitants are engaged in the herring-fishery, which is, however, carried on only to a small extent, scarcely exceeding what is requisite for their own consumption. The mansion-houses are those of Mr. Macneil in the island of Canna, and Dr. Maclean in the island of Rum; the lands attached have been greatly improved and embellished with plantations, which are well managed and in a thriving state.
   There are no villages, neither are there any important manufactures carried on: a few of the inhabitants, however, are employed in the building and repairing of boats, and in some of the usual handicraft trades connected with the fisheries, and necessary for the supply of their immediate wants. The means of communication with the post-office on the main land, and with the several adjacent islands, is by small boats, of which each family has at least one for its own use. The rateable annual value of the parish is £664. Its ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Skye and synod of Glenelg. The minister's stipend is £158. 6. 8., including communion elements, of which sum £64. 16. 4. are paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £25 per annum: patron, the Crown. There is no church; the parishioners assemble in the schoolroom at Eigg, which is capable of accommodating a congregation of eighty persons. Nearly one half of the people are of the Roman Catholic persuasion, and meet for public worship in the house of the priest; and those who are of the Free Church have also a place of worship. The parochial school, for which an appropriate building in the island of Eigg was erected in 1829, is attended by about thirty scholars; the master has a salary of £30, with a house and garden, and the fees average £10 per annum. There is also a Gaelic school in Muck, supported by a society. Some remains of ancient fortresses exist on the islands of Canna and Muck, but in a very dilapidated state; and on the island of Rum are still left vestiges of dykes formerly used for ensnaring the deer.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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