Testimony of: William Mackay (Ban)

[Crest of clansfolk of Clan MacKay] Crest of Clansfolk of Clan MacKay
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The halls, where our ancestors first saw the light,
Now blackened in ruins they lie.
And the moss-covered cairns are all that remain
Of the once pleasant homes of MacKay.

80 years of age, army pensioner and crofter, Achina, Farr

I am a native of Rossal on Strathnaver, and now living at Achina. One morning in May, when I was about twelve years of age, I went up to Achcaoilnaborgin to see Sellar's party putting the houses in that township on fire, as I, like a child, thought it grand fun to see the houses burning. The burning party was under the leadership of one Branders. When I reached the place the houses were ablaze, and I waited till they were all burnt to the ground, six in number. Then I accompanied the burners to Achinlochy, were six more houses were reduced to ashes.

In one of these houses I saw an old man, Donald Mackay (MacWilliam), who was over 100 years of age, lying in bed. Branders and his men, on coming to this house, glanced at the old man in bed, and then set fire to the house in two or three places, and the poor man, who could not escape, was left by them to the tender mercies of the flames.

The cries of the sufferer attracted the attention of his friends, who, at their own peril, ran in and rescued him from a painful death. It can be said with certainty that the terror and the effect of the fire on his person tended to hasten the man's death.

I may state that I have travelled a large portion of the four quarters of the globe, lived among heathens and barbarians where I saw many cruel scenes, but never witnessed such revolting cruelty as I did on Strathnaver, except one case in the rebellion of Canada.

I knew Donald Macleod, the author of "The Gloomy Memoirs of Sutherland", to be honest and truthful, and what I read in this book was nothing but the simple truth.

I declare that this statement of mine is true.

William Mackay
-- William Campbell
-- Murdo Mackay
30th Aug. 1883

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