Jura etc Summary

Jura, Scarba, Lunga and Garvellachs


Principal Sources


RMS II (2200) 1493-4 to Maclean of Lochbuy

RMS II (2264) (original of 1390) Lord of the Isles to Maclean (of Duart)

RMS II (2329) 1496, (3440) 1510 (Maclean of Duart)

RMS II (2895) 1505, (3001) 1506 to MacIan of Ardnamurchan

RMS III (1745) original dated 1534

RMS III (2065) 1539-40

RMS III (3085) 1545 to Macdonald of Dunnyveg

RMS IV (1272) 1558 to Macdonald of Dunnyveg

RMS VI (1911) 1607

RMS VII (663) 1612, (1008) 1614, (1386) 1616, (1628) 1617

RMS VIII (547) 1623, (815) 1625, (929) 1626 (original 1624), (1610, 1623) 1630, (1909) 1632

RMS IX (467) 1636, (655) 1637, (828) 1638

RMS XI (942, 943) 1666, (1105) 1667


RSS II (4732) 1542


ER XII p 590 Part rental, 1507, p 709 1506

ER XIII p 216 1509

ER XV p 676 1528-9 – follows on from RMS II (3001) of 1506

ER XVII pp 620-1 & p 641, Rental of half Jura 1541


AS I (399) 1659, (442-3) 1660

AS II (49) 1619, (177) 1624, (300) 1629, (326, 359) 1630, (398) 1631, (432) 1632, (521, 524) 1634, (572, 575) 1636, (592-3) 1637, (691) 1642, (920) 1656, (975) 1658, (1096) 1663, (1299) 1666, (1328-30, 1343) 1667


Argyll Retours (7) 1603, (16) 1615, (67) 1662


Historical Manuscripts Commission Report No IV p 479 No 104, 1616

Historical Manuscripts Commission Report No IV p 479 No 108, 1630

Historical Manuscripts Commission Report No IV p 480 No 117, 1589

Historical Manuscripts Commission Report No IV p 480 No 118, 1605

Historical Manuscripts Commission Report No IV p 480 No 119, 1613

Historical Manuscripts Commission Report No IV p 480 No 120, 1614


Clan Campbell Vol III p 145, 1776

Clan Campbell VI p 242, 1630

Book of Islay p 28, 1499

Highland Papers I pp 255, 260 of 1672, p 285 of 1674

Miscellany (Scottish History Society) IV pp 293-4 No 9 1614


RHP 283/2 (& RHP 1192) A plan of Kenuachtrach, G Langlands & son, 1794

RHP 975/1 Killmorry, G Langlands, 1787

RHP 5268, Ardfin, 1848


D Budge, Jura, Glasgow, 1960

J Mercer, Hebridean Islands, Jura, 1982

P Youngson, Jura: Island of Deer, Edinburgh, 2001



Firstly we should look at the summary totals. Skene’s late sixteenth-century source gives the extent of Jura as 30m:


And to the … Ile of Yla was conjoynit the Iles of Dewra, alias Jura, Colonsa, Geiga, Rauchlyne, Seillonyng, [ie Seil + Luing], Scarba.

(Skene, Celtic Scotland Vol III, Appendix III p 428)


Jura … is 30 merk land. The half pairt thairof pertenis to the said McClane, and the uther half to the Clan Donald. The haill will raise, with the Ile of Scarba (quhilk is baith but ane parochin), 100 men. … it payis alike to Ila of dewties.


Scarba is … 4 merk land, and pertenis to McClane of Lochbuy in heritage. It … will raise 17 men.

(Skene, Celtic Scotland, Vol III, Appendix III pp 438-9)


A very similar document, obviously deriving from the same source, is to be found in the English records. It is printed in AE Cameron (ed.), Calendar of State Papers relating to Scotland in the Public Head Office, Vol XI (1593-5), 1936, pp 253-255. Here it is stated that Scarba belongs to Maclean of Lochbuy and will raise 20 men – this is in addition to Jura, which will raise 100 men.


These snippets contain important information but also leave us with some ambiguities. Scarba belonged to Killearnadale parish before 1600 but it almost reads as if the 4m of Scarba was additional to the 30m of Jura. I don’t think it was.


Smith gives a total of 26⅓ merk lands for Killearnadil in 1798 but states that the parish then included Scarba, Lunga and Belnahua. OPS II, I p 276 adds to these:


the Mare Isles, of which the chief are Dunchonnill, Garvelloch, Coulbrandon, and Elachnave, and a few islands of inferior size.



What does the documentary record give us?


In 1354 (Munro pp 5-8) John (Macdougall) of Lorn quitclaimed to John of Islay:


castrum de Dunconill cum omnibus pertinenciis suis et insulis superiore parte de Duray cum suis pertinenciis

(the castle of Dun Chonnuill with all its pertinents and the islands of the upper part of Jura with their pertinents).


We can assume that the islands of the upper part of Jura meant the Garvellachs, Lunga and Scarba with their smaller satellites. It certainly looks as if Dun Chonnuill and all these islands were viewed as part of Jura in 1354. This is important in the context of finding exactly which 30m made up the value of Jura.


In 1390 (Munro pp 14-16 & RMS II (2264)) Donald, Lord of the Isles, granted Lachlan MacLean (of Duart):


dimediam constabulariam castrorum de Dunconail et Dunkerd cum insulis videlicet Garbealeach et duabus insulis Garbealean et Scealda et … denariatum terre de Moylbuyg in Scarba et superiorem partem terre de Dura

(half the constabulary of the castles of Dun Chonnuill and ‘Dunkerd’ with the islands viz. Garbh Eileach and the two islands of Garvellan and ‘Scealda’ and … the pennyland of Mulbuy in Scarba and the upper part of Jura). Garvellan was sometimes used of Garbh Eileach but I think what is meant here is Garvellan Beg or Eileach an Naoimh. Youngson (p 87) suggests ‘Scealda’ is A’Chuli – with which I agree. The difference from 1354 is that part of Jura itself is now being granted away.


The documentary trails for North and South Jura are slightly different. Much of the northern part of Jura passed down through the Macleans of Duart and in 1496 their possessions included the farms of Troeg, Owenegeill, Glennamuk, Ardskalanis, Cammys, Ernystill and Ardemenys (RMS II (2329)). This list seems to run roughly N to S and is repeated (with variant spellings) in RMS III (2065) 1539-40, Argyll Retours (7) 1603, (16) 1615 and (67) 1662. However we are not given valuations either individually or collectively. What looks like the same lands of Ardbaniche, Cammise, Terbert, Troaghe, Glennamuke and Huanagelle appear in 1510 (RMS II (3440)) but this time the list runs S to N. We are also told that their collective total in 1510 was 5m which is confirmed by what we know of their later individual valuations. (Ardmenish 1¼m, Camus 1¼m, Tarbert 1¼m and the three units of Troag, Gleann nam Muc and Uamh nan Giall, which composed Kenuachdrachd, made another 1¼m). The differences between the two lists are that Ardskalanis and Ernystill are either missing from the second list or have been replaced by Tarbert. In later times the farm of Camus (which is now Lagg Bay) seems to have included Corrynaherry and Achnatartbert so presumably Tarbert in 1510 meant the lands just north of these. Ardskalanis may be near Beinn Sgaillinish (NR 6184) whilst Ernystill (or Egistill in 1539-40) may be a -dale name.


Another 2½m of North Jura (Ardlussa and Cnoc an t-Sabhail) went to the Macleans of Lochbuy before 1493-4 (RMS II (2200)). They also held the 1d farm of Kilmory in Scarba and the 1d of Lunga.


In 1541 (ER XVII pp 620-1) the rents of some 14⅜m in South Jura are recorded. (The version printed on p 641 differs in that Achaleck is omitted and the totals of marts, meal and cheese are reduced accordingly). These were the old Macdonald lands and in 1545 (RMS III (3085)) they were regranted to James Macdonald of Dunyvaig. If we add in ⅝m for that part of Strone which belonged to the Priory of Oronsay we come to 15m or half of the total value for Jura. This is further confirmed in Miscellany IV (Scottish History Society) pp 293-4, No 9 of 1614 which refers to these Jura properties extending to a £10 land (15m).


I find 22½m in the island of Jura itself. We should then add Scarba (3¼ or 4m), Lunga (1 or 1½m) and the Garvellachs (1m) which brings us to between 27¾m & 29m. What is missing? Well the southern section of Jura seems complete but it looks as if there is 1-2¼m missing in the north. There are several possible explanations. It may be that a farm has escaped the documentary record – eg a Macduphee property such as Monro implies existed in 1549. Or a farm valuation may have been lost when it was abandoned and absorbed by one of its neighbours. This happened in other parts of the Highlands and may have occurred in Jura as well. For instance I am a little suspicious that there are absolutely no valuations on the west coast of Jura between Cnoc Breac and Kinuachdrach.


Finally we should look at the rather strange mixture of pennylands and merklands in Kenuachdrach, Scarba and Lunga. What is confusing is the fact that pennylands probably shouldn’t be there. In 1674 (HP I p 285) there is reference to the 3d land of Kenwachtrich and Ardveanish (in Jura) and Mulbuy (in Scarba). In 1751 these same three properties are called 3½m. In Scarba the property of Kilmory is 1d in 1493-4, 1537-8, 1542, 1636 & 1663. It is 2m in 1493-4, 1537-8, 1542, 1630, 1631, 1636, 1659, 1751 & 1776. Mulbuy, which was the other farm in Scarba, was 1d in 1390 & 1510 or 1¼m in 1630 & 1667. Yet the whole of Scarba was 4m in 1509. Lunga was worth 1d in 1493-4, 1537-8, 1542, 1636 & 1663. In 1509 it was worth 1m (with Belnahua) but 1½m in 1659 & 1751. By way of contrast, the Garvellachs are only ever given valuations in merklands, not pennylands. What is going on here?


I think this unexpected mix comes about because the islands at the north end of Jura were at the interface between two land-assessment systems. The 30m of Jura undoubtedly included the island of Jura itself, Scarba, Lunga and the Garvellachs. Their assessment system, shared with Colonsay, Islay and Gigha, was one of davachs divided into quarterlands and eighthlands. Each davach was worth 10m under the system of Scottish extent. None of these islands had pennylands and they should be viewed as a group.


However just to the north lay Mull which was full of pennylands and which also had a different ounceland to davach ratio. Now whether we give credit to the Macleans or to the Macdougalls, (who as their predecessors were equally conversant with pennylands), the northernmost section of Jura parish became influenced by the system in Mull. Since a pennyland in Mull (except Ross) was the same as an eighthland it was probably assumed that eighthlands in the north of Jura could just as well be described as pennylands. I think this process was late and only took place after the original conversion ratios had long been forgotten. I think it is an historical anomaly that need not worry us.


In Lunga we meet the place-name Garbh Cheathramh (NM 6908). In another island this might refer to the ‘rough quarterland’ but since Lunga wasn’t worth more than 1½m and a quarterland in this area should be 2½m we have an anomaly. It is possible that the name once referred to this whole section of Jura parish, (ie Lunga and the Garvellachs which together may have come to 2½m), and subsequently just attached to Lunga. Or, as I think more likely, it doesn’t really mean quarterland here – just the rough section of Lunga island.


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