Location: Mid Argyll and Inveraray
clearances and resistance

Arichonan riots

Arichonan is a very sad place to visit. A few ruins indicated that 40 people lived there under the Campbells, the MacNeills and then the Malcolms of Poltalloch. But in the 1840’s they were worth less than sheep by the time London-based Neil Malcolm succeeded his father, inheriting a fortune acquired in the colonies on the back of the slave trade.

All Neil needed was a couple of shepherds to look after his sheep, the rest of his tenants could go and work on his vast Australian cattle ranches. Yet on 4 April 1848, when the Arichonan people were served with an eviction notice by Whitsunday, no-one budged. The sheriff came and returned on June 13 with a dozen men to be confronted by the Arichonan women armed with pitched forks, led by widow Catherine Campbell. On July 7, ten policemen were brought in but neighbours had rallied around: sixty people bent on defending themselves with stick and stones.

In the ensuing fight, widow Catherine and four of the men were taken away to Inveraray Jail, followed by 200 enraged small tenants. By August 7, rioting had given up to compliance under threat of the military. The Arichonan people dispersed throughout the area, not one of them accepting their landlord’s Australian offer. Some went to Canada to join other Knapdale emigrants. In Arichonan, the people’s houses were torn down to build the factor's house and a sheep fank.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.