Parish of Barvas (1831-1845) - Parochial Economy

There are no towns in this parish, nor any market in the country, by which the people may be benefited, but that annually held at Stornoway in July. In severe seasons, the cattle are not, then, in a condition to be disposed of to advantage; and a loss is thus created, which could be remedied, did the markets occur more frequently. The parish bas the benefit of two roads, one along the coast, and another now much out of repair, to Stornoway, the only trading town in the island. The communication thither is sometimes interrupted from want of bridges, when the rivers are impassable during floods.

Ecclesiastical State.-The church occupies a central situation in the village, from which the parish derives its name, and is distant from the inhabited parts of the parish, five miles from one extremity, and seven miles from the other. It was built about forty years ago, and has been lately well repaired. It is a long narrow building without gallery, and affords accomodation for 800 persons, all of whom have their sittings free. The manse was built about sixty years ago, and has been also frequently repaired. The minister possesses a legal grass glebe, designed in 1815, which may, as an accommodation in so remote a situation, be worth L. 20 per annum. The stipend is L. 158, 6s. 8d. Sterling, including L. 8, 6s. 8d. for communion elements, of which L. 119, 16s. is paid by the heritor as parochial teind, and the balance, L. 38, 10s. 8d. is paid from the King's Exchequer. There are no dissenters in the parish, nor any other chapels or churches. About 180 families, and from 400 to 500 individuals, are in the habit of attending public worship, when the weather permits.

Poor and Parochial Funds.-The church collections, including fines for petty delicts, do not exceed L. 3 annually, which are distributed among 30 paupers. Exclusive of this little aid, the maintenance of the poor depends upon the liberality of the tenantry, who are ready to supply them out of their own scanty means. To this may be added the generous aid furnished by the proprietor’s lady, the Honourable Mrs Stewart Mackenzie, who is always benevolent in ministering to their necessities as often as made known, by supplying them with food and clothing. The late Mr Angus Nicolson, merchant in Stornoway, has bequeathed L. 100, of which the interest is to be given to the poorest of those next of kin to himself in the parish, and the principal to remain untouched.

Education.- The schools in the parish are 3 in number; one parochial, and two supported by the Edinburgh Gaelic School Society,-one in Shadir, and the other in Arnal. The parish schoolmaster is qualified to teach Latin, Greek, arithmetic, and the elements of English reading, and receives L. 28 of salary. School fees scarcely exceed L. 1. The Gaelic teachers are re- stricted exclusively to the Gaelic language or the Gaelic Scriptures. Their salary is L. 25.

It is much to be lamented, how little literary knowledge is appreciated by the people in general. The parochial school is thus rendered of less efficiency than it might be, the abilities of an excellent teacher being as little valued as the branches in which he is fitted to give instruction. This apathy may arise from their inability to pay fees, and perhaps in some measure from being apprehensive that their children may become stimulated by the knowledge they acquire, to leave their native country,a disposition highly disapproved of. In a country almost devoid of the slightest prospect of advancement, it certainly is, and might naturally be expected to be, the tendency engendered in an educated and cultivated mind, to go abroad where some field might be found for exertion. This deep-rooted prejudice, formerly a strong barrier to literary attainments, is fast losing ground. Itinerating schools have been occasionally stationed in various parts of the parish, under the patronage of the Gaelic School Society, Edinburgh, and the Inverness Education Society; and so great is the benefit derived from these valuable institutions, that the greatest number of the population have been taught to read the Gaelic Scriptures.

Fuel, &c--There are no charitable institutions, prisons, inns or alehouses in the parish and the fuel, which consists of peats, is perfectly accessible to all the inhabitants, and very abundant.

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