Colintraive’s Heritage Booklet

Clearance and Change (about 1790) in Colintraive

Tenant Farms

Most people in Colintraive in the 1700s lived in multi tenanted farms like those described by Thomas Pennant. In 1772 in he wrote

The method of letting a farm is very singular: each is commonly possessed by a number of small tenants who live in houses clustered together so that each farm appears like a little village.

Source:-‘A Tour in Scotland and Voyage to the Hebrides’

The Impact of Sheep on the Colintraive Area


With the introduction of sheep, times were changing and between 1755 and the 1790s the population of Inverchaolain, the parish which includes Colintraive, almost halved, dropping from 944 to 504. The minister of Inverchaolain, the Reverend Mr Hugh McTavish, surveyed the situation in his ‘.

It has been humorously observed, since flocks of sheep have expelled the droves of cows which formerly were kept in this part of the country, that the district should be called Sheep-all instead of Cowal. This has been owing to a practice, of letting large tracts of ground, to one or two individuals for sheep grazing, which were formerly occupied by eight or ten different tenants.’

Source:-Statistical Account’ of the parish about 1793


The people who had occupied the land moved into the growing industrial towns around Glasgow and the minister optimistically suggested that:

‘Happily, for them, they were mostly removed to the neighbouring towns, where they found sufficient employment, and where many of their children, by advantages of education, have raised themselves up to independence, to become useful members of the community, and a support and comfort to their parents in their old age.

(Source:-Mctavish, H. 1799)


These changes did not come without opposition. The insecurity brought on by the lack of leases or short leases coupled with evictions caused dissention. As a result, the local Commissioners of Supply (controlled by the major landowners) noted in 1750 that in Inverchaolain Parish:

‘Threatenings have been lately emitted by several persons legally removed from their possessions.'(Source: -Mctavish, H. 1793)

The change from cattle grazing to the pasturing of sheep altered the nature of the land replacing the heather covered hills with grass, partly through the practice of burning the heather in the springtime. All the mountains some years ago, were covered with heath, but many of them now, being pastured with sheep, are mostly green.’ (Mctavish, H. 1793)

Housing in the 1800’s

‘It was of an oblong shape, about six yards long by three wide and the roof very steep, particularly at one end. The interior was dark and gloomy, for there was neither window nor lattice; and the little light that was admitted through the roof and the door place, was barely sufficient to shew the blackened sides and the slender poles which scarcely supported the roof. There was no chimney; and the draught was therefore so imperfect, that its smoke filled every cranny of the hut.’

Source: -Bowman J. E. (1825)
Figure 9:- The House at Loch Striven
(Source Dr, Grant I.)