Post and Market-Town.-There is no post or market-town in the parish of Lochs: the nearest to it is Stornoway, which is eleven miles from the church of Lochs. The only post-office in the island of Lewis is in Stornoway, from whence there is a mail packet once a week (weather permitting) to Poolewe, on the mainland of Ross-shire.
Roads, &c.- There is not a road of any description in any part of the parish of Lochs. Every communication with the next market-town, must be over the trackless heath or by sea. A line of road was commenced at Stornoway in 1830, which is intended to be extended as far as Harris, passing through the parish of Lochs but that road has not as yet been extended beyond the limits of the parish of Stornoway.
There are many good harbours in the parish of Lochs,the principal of which are, Cromore, which is in the entrance of Loch Erisort, Lochshell, and Marig, in Loch Seaforth. These harbours are sufficient to accommodate shipping of any burthen. Their depth is from fifty feet downwards.
Villages.-The inhabitants of the parish of Lochs reside in detached villages, having a population varying from 40 families downwards. The most of these villages or farms are lotted in different divisions, each tenant having his house on his own lot, and contracting with his landlord separately for his yearly rent, so that the tenants living on the same farm hold their lands independently of each other. Some of them have their tenements placed more promiscuously. These divide their spots of corn land as they are detached upon the farm, giving each other a proportion according to their respective rents; and that each may have his just share of the benefits of the pasture also, they restrict each other to a proportion of cattle corresponding with the amount of their rents thus securing to each other, by mutual consent, a share of the produce of their farm, proportionate to their respective rents.
Church-The parish church is situate on a small peninsula, on the farm of Keose. Its situation is centrical; but-the arms of the sea, by which the parish is intersected, render a regular attendance on divine service impracticable during the winter. There is a part of the parish situated on the north-west side of the island, between the parishes of Uig and Barvas, a distance of eighteen miles from the parish church of Lochs, where the minister of Lochs is bound to preach once every three months. This district is named Carloway, and stands more in need of the labours of a missionary than any other place in the Long-Island.
The inhabitants of Carloway have no opportunity of attending divine service. except when the minister of Lochs preaches there. The population of Carloway is 901. The stipend, converted to money, amounts to L. 150. The manse was lately put in good repair. I cannot state precisely either the extent or value of the glebe. The parish church is a new building, sufficient to accommodate 700 sitters. Public worship is well attended, excepting when the violence of the weather detains such of the parishioners as must have recourse to boating, in coming to church. There is not a Government church, nor any place of public worship in the parish of Lochs, excepting the parish church. There is not a single dissenter from the Established Church in any part of the Lewis Island. Preachers from dissenting Associations have laboured among
the people of Lewis for many years; but they all failed to unite a single individual to their own society. About 530 families attend the Established Church.
Education.-The remoteness of some parts of the parish of Lochs from the parish school, renders it impossible for the greater part of the generation, to avail themselves of the means of a liberal education. To have the means of education disseminated to an extent adequate to the necessities of the people, three other schools are requisite. This is owing principally to the physical character of the parish, the habitable parts of which are separated from each other by arms of the sea, and by extensive tracts of waste ground. The parish schoolmaster’s salary is L. 28, and his fees do not exceed L 1, 10s. a year.
There are only 12 persons in all the parish who can write; but half the inhabitants from twelve to twenty-four years of age can head the Gaelic language, which is the only language spoken generally. A few of the males can speak broken English. It was by the instrumentality of the Gaelic School Society that so many of them were enabled to read Gaelic.
The Gaelic School Society has four schools at present in the parish of Lochs, which are the only schools in it. The parish school has been vacant for many years, from the want of accommodation, which has been much against the inhabitants, who seem to hold the benefits of education in very high estimation; but that grievance has been removed. A commodious school-house has been erected recently, and a teacher appointed.
Poor.-The only charitable contributions in this parish are raised at the church after divine service. The amount of these contributions is generally low, in consequence of the poverty of the people; but the poor of the parish are supported chiefly by their relations. Such of them as are destitute of near relations, find willing friends in their neighbours and acquaintances to administer to their necessities. The number of paupers in the parish has not as yet been actually ascertained.
Jail-AIehouse.-There is no jail in the parish of Lochs. The next to it, is that of Stornoway. There is only one inn, viz. that of Lochshell, which is frequented by seafaring men only.
Fuel.-The fuel used here universally is pests, which are of excellent quality, and in very great abundance. This fuel is not only abundant but convenient also; for the peat banks, or the moss from which they prepare this fuel, is, in many instances, no more than fifty feet from the dwelling houses of the people; though, in a few other instances, it is a full mile distant. The labour of preparing this fuel chiefly devolves on the female part of the population, with the single exception of cutting the peats out of the moss, and spreading them on the ground to dry, which is done by the males.