Transcribed by Gordon Furness, email@example.com
Letter from Duncan McLeod, Skye to Mrs. Malcom Ferguson, Lot 48 - Mar. 23 1841.
Mrs. Malcolm Ferguson, Lot 48,
Care of John Fraser,
Prince Edward Island,
23rd, March 1841.
My Dear Niece:-
I cannot really express the happiness that I felt on the arrival of your kind letter dated the 15th, October 1840. Not only myself but the whole of your other surviving friends, for we got no account of any of you since your mother died till the arrival of your letter and at that time your Grandfather and Grandmother were both living.
I am in the same place that they had that is Balvraid and Angus my Brother is also in the same place.
My family consists of eight children five boys and three girls of whom the oldest called Mary after your Mother has married lately the Miller of Glenelg a native called Donald Morison. My sons names are:- Roderick Kenneth, Duncan Angus and Donald, the other two daughters Janet and Meron all single yet. Angus my brothers family are:- Rebecca, Duncan, Catherine, Meron and Kenneth. Rebecca is married to one Donald McLeod son to the crippled tailor whom your father if he be yet living will understand the rest of the family being yet single.
This place is greatly altered since you left it for I pay a yearly rent of 21 pounds-2-3 Sterling for the fifth part of Balvraid for which rent I keep eight milk cows with their followers and a horse and twenty sheep, and Angus my brother the same but we cannot always keep our full compliment of cattle on the place as the rent is so high and nothing to pay it with but cattle and all the rest of the country is in the same proportion of rent.
I never lost view of wishing to be in America but am now getting old as also my wife, but it is hard to say but some of my family may go there, nay, it is most probable that they will and perhaps ourselves too, as this place is getting dearer every day, therefor would very much wish if ever you get this to write me back your opinion whether it would be better for us to go there or to remain where we are for I see a vast difference between what your letter says in regard to rents and what we have here and let you make the thing so plain that we may completely understand it, for I have a grown up family that would do well if they were in a place where a competence could be got for their work but that is not to be got here.
All friends as well as myself are much obliged to you for your kindness in writing to us especially as you are the youngest of the family, that makes your letter doubly welcome because people would think the oldest of a family the most considerate.
I am thinking it was Peggy McRae one of our Glenelg women that married a Kintail man and who went last year to Prince Edward Island along with the Skye people that gave you what account you got of us! If we had your correct address the letters would be oftener between us that they were for there is nothing in nature more pleasant than the perusal of a letter from an absent friend. To Give you a proper idea of this place there are scores of families in Glenelg here living on one acre of land each for which they pay two pounds Sterling of rent and those of them that have the means of keeping a milk cow along with the acre pay five pounds Sterling yearly, so you see there are great odds between that and what is in your place.
We had a plentiful year last year, the potatoes (on which the common people mostly feed) were sold for two Shillings per barrrel but owing to the wet weather of this last summer and harvest, they are so scarce this year that they bring five Shillings the barrel.
It is not very long since I heard from our friends in Canada and they were well and in a prosperous way and if you hear from them tell us; for when I heard from them your old maternal Uncle Roderick my brother was living.
Your friends on your fathers side are getting scarce. Margret your Aunt died since the arrival of your letter. She never married and Christy your Aunt is still living. She is a widow living with Neil her son who is still unmarried and so is her daughter Betsy and Mary also. Farquhar and Malcolm her other sons are both married and have families but Farquhar is in Drynout in Skye. Catherine and Christy her daughters are also married and have families.
I may say that the most of the people here would gladly emigrate to British America, if they had the means of doing so, but they are generally so poor that they have petitioned the proprietor this last Martinmas for help to that effect but got no answer yet, so if the Laird or the Government will not help them that they must remain miserably where they are, but the Parliament are at present discussing the matter but the issue cannot be known yet but will soon be.
Old Malcolm McRae the tailor offers his best wishes to your father if he be still living. I conclude my dear Niece, with kindest compliments in which I am joined by my family, by Angus my Brother and family and your friends on the other side to you all, but more especially to your father if he be yet living, and in expectation of your answer.
Duncan McLeod in Balvraid
Glenelg, Invernefsshire N. Britain