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The Birtwhistles of Craven and Galloway

 

 

 

 

 

tenants-in-common of the cattle business. Robert died in 1815, and it is from his probate inventory that we learn he had a ¼ share of the stock on the brothers’ sheep farms in the Highlands, and that the accounts were to be adjusted by John McIntyre of Letterewe. It was not until the end of the 18th century that the Highland roads were of sufficient standard to enable sheep to travel on them; while cattle can swim across swollen rivers and streams, sheep cannot. (An article in the Dumfries Weekly Journal on 25th September 1792 advertising that Cheviots sheep had been successfully introduced to the Highlands may have drawn the Birtwhistles attentions to the commercial opportunities presented by sheep farming  in the Highlands).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 11 Robert Birtwhistle’s Crake Moor Farm on the Long Preston hilltops

 

John McIntyre of Letterewe was the Birtwhistles’ partner on the Rosshire sheep farms, and John’s involvement in the business probably explains why Robert’s will shows him with a ¼ share  of the Rosshire sheep, rather than the  1/3rd share we would  expect if the three Birtwhistle brothers only had been involved in the venture as tenants-in-common. We know something about the Birtwhistle/McIntyre sheep farms because of a visit to Rosshire by James Hogg, the “Ettrick Shepherd”, who spent some time with John McIntyre at Letterewe and provided a report of his  visit to Walter Scott. James Hogg was a failed border sheep farmer who had walked from the borders in order to find a sheep farm to lease, and had written to  Walter Scott in the hope that Scott and some of his friends might provide financial backing for a sheep farming venture  in the Highlands.

   According to Hogg, the Birtwhistle/ McIntyre estate had  been cleared in 1802 and   there were considerable crops of corn and potatoes left by the tenants who had removed last term. From Letterewe, Hogg travelled to Dunconnel, which had not been cleared, where he stayed with the laird. The estate was crammed full of people and the valleys are impoverished by perpetual cropping. The

 

 

 

 

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