What’s in a name?
I’ve recently been attending a series of local history talks run by a group who are undertaking an archaeological project in the local woods. Their research will cover everything from exploring ‘lumps and bumps’ ie evidence of early history settlements (stone huts, etc), through 18th century land use (farming and crofting) up to the WW2 forestry operations.
I’ve never really studied much local history before am finding this interesting.
As a wee aside from the forest project, I thought I’d look up information about our house. The house is at least 150 years old and was originally a croft. It was owned by Lord Lovat as part of his large estate and had tenant farmers.
One of the main problems tracing any local history is the people were very poor and largely illiterate. This leads to many variations in spellings of place names (and even family names). The township (cluster of crofts) we live in is called Loaneckheim, but over the years has been listed in records as Lonvickime. Lonvichime, Lounickime, Loanvickheim, Lonich-Keim. Incidentally this is said to mean ‘Marsh of the son of Simon’ or ‘Macshimmy’s marsh’, referring to the Fraser chieftain, Simon Fraser (Lord Lovat).
The earliest record I’ve seen so far for Loaneckheim refers to a a court judgement in 1798 when a sentence of “Life Banishment from Scotland” was passed against Ewan Cameron of Loanvichen (sic). He was accused of murder.
Records from the nineteenth century refer to payment to several labourers for work on Lovat Estate. Considering there are only about 20 houses in Loaneckheim greater than 50 years old, it’s possible one the labourers mentioned in 1805 lived here – making our house 200 years old.
One definite record I found gave the following:
xx (our house number) Loaneckheim
Malcolm MacBean of xx Loaneckheim applied to the Crofter Commission on 20 December 1887 for his rent to be determined. It was reported that the land was owned by Lord Lovat and that he paid a present rent of £4 10s for his 4 acres 2 roods of arable land and 5 acres 1 rood of outrun. The Commission determined a fair rent of £2 15s.
The neighbouring crofters had their rent cut by similar amounts. It looks like Lord Lovat was similar to many other rich land owners and was charging his poor tenants higher rent than was considered appropriate by the newly established Crofters Commission.
By the electoral roll of 1918, the family name has changed to the spelling McBain, but by 1936 we find “Macbain, Robert. Macbain, Mrs Isabella and Macbean, Miss, Mary”.
All the other townships in the parish suffer for a similar variation in spellings of names. Even in different names in some instances due to the use of different forms of Gaelic with different words.