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History of the Estate

Eward 'Bear' Ellice purchased the Glen Quoich Estate from the MacDonnell Clan in 1838. Why did they need to sell their lands? The crisis came when the steamer taking Alastair MacDonnell, 15th Chief of the MacDonell Clan of Glengarry, back to Edinburgh in 1828. The ship was wrecked in a bad storm off Corran, south of Fort William. The Chief jumped from the ship but hit his head on the rocks. He was taken to a house at Inverscaddle, but died that night. This was a final and fatal blow to the MacDonnell Clan. When Alastair inherited the Chieftanship from his father, the MacDonnells, like many another Scottish Clan, were in trouble; they were deeply in debt, and there were too many people. It was the time of the Scottish clearances, when the Chiefs tried to raise money by letting land to sheep farmers. This necessitated the clearance of clansmen from the land. They were encouraged to emigrate to Canada. In Glengarry, there had already been four waves of emigration between 1773 and 1802. Both leaders and clansmen of the Clan MacDonell sailed to North America. Many of them settled in Canada, where they founded Glengarry County in Ontario.

For the Clan the only solution seemed to be the sale of their ancestral lands in Glengarry. These centred on the ancient Glengarry Castle, on the western shore of Loch Oich, beside which the Chiefs had built a more habitable house in the 18th century. There were some lands to the East of the loch, and then they ran some 25 miles to the West, by on average about seven and a half miles wide, along Loch Garry and Loch Quoich, ending at the inlet from the sea at Kinlock Hourn. Before a sale was possible, there had to be further clearances. The Clansmen were promised a better life in Canada and many sailed from Knoydart or Corpach. Unlike the earlier emigrants who had volunteered to go, these later ones were forced from their homes and many evictions took place. They were mostly amongst the poor, who had not had means enough to purchase a passage during the earlier emigrations.

Glenquoich Lodge
Glenquoich Lodge

Ten years after Alastair's death, the MacDonnells were at last able to find a prospective purchaser in Edward 'Bear' Ellice, who bought the western portion of the lands, the Glenquoich estate in 1838. Shortly after this, the eastern portion, the Glengarry estate, was bought by Ellice's good friend the Marquis of Huntley. At that time, Huntley's factor reported that there were 315 people living on his lands, of which 122 were 'destitute'. There were still many rough piles of stones, and the shadow of a cleared field, evidence of the departed clansmen, on the lands for sale. Clansmen continued to emigrate up to the 1850s. Lord Huntley soon sold the Glengarry portion on to Lord Ward in 1842.

Edward 'Bear' Ellice, after the excitements of business and government, and, as a 53 year old widower, wanted to lead a less public life, and so it was that in 1838 he bought the Glenquoich estate. It must have been the realisation of a dream. He was deeply influenced by the Romantic enthusiasm for Scotland, encouraged by Sir Walter Scott and Queen Victoria. He set about building a modest hunting house or Lodge, on the shores of Loch Quoich, in that very remote and wild corner of the Highlands. It was a two story Regency/early Victorian design facing South, with plate glass sash windows and rows of dormers to the first floor in the slate roof. It was sparsely furnished with cane-bottomed chairs and iron bedsteads; it had a piano for music making; and antlers added a suitable note, arranged around the mirror above the cast iron fireplace.

'Bear', with the help of his son Edward II and wife Janie, made the new house at Glenquoich the centre of much entertaining. 'Bear's' friends would come from London, France, America and Canada; they included journalists, politicians, artists, writers and businessmen. (Ref: the Glenquoich Visitors Book , a fascinating journal, full of drawings, poems and contributions from the visitors who were required to enter something in the 'Livre des Voyageurs', now in the Scottish National Library, Edinburgh) Landseer was a frequent visitor. He was a passionate stalker, and did many drawings of the landscape and of red deer, alive and dead. 'Bear' died, aged 80. at Ardochy, a house on the nothern shore of Loch Garry.

On his father 'Bear's' death in 1863, Edward II inherited, amongst other property, the Glenquoich estate. He was 53, so the same age as his father had been a generation before on his inheritance. That year, he was able to purchase the Eastern portion of the old MacDonnell lands, the Glengarry Estate, from Lord Ward. He decided to move his Scottish base from Glenquoich to Invergarry, far easier of access, which was important to him as he

intended to spend more time in Scotland than his father had done.He therefore          

commissioned a new house, Invergarry House, on the shores of Loch Oich, from the

leading Scottish architect of the time, David Bryce. The design was to  be Scottish

Scottish Baronial, like that of many another Scottish estate at the time.  The House

is now the Glengarry Castle Hotel.

Two world wars and death duties caused the estate to be downsized to about a quarter of the orignal. What is left is a forward looking, efficient unit that can compete in the modern world.

Christopher Ellice, Aberchalder & Glengarry Estates Ltd, Aberchalder Lodge, Invergarry, Scotland PH35 4HN

Email: info@aberchalderestate.co.uk Tel: +44 (0)1809 501441