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Mitchell Family Sheepfarming

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Mitchell Family Sheepfarming

Postby John Crae » Thu Aug 06, 2009 6:28 pm

Very interested in David Mitchell's program, unfortunately the programme did not go far enough. While the Mitchell family only became tenant farmers in Tongue in the 1830s it would have been useful to have followed the Mitchells sheep farming connections further back as a Mr Mitchell, a sheep farmer from Ayrshire was a tenant farmer on the estates of Mr Davidson of Tulloch (near Dingwall?) in the late 1700s. If he is a relative of David Mitchell then it is not only likely but almost certain that David's family was involved in the clearances (not in Sutherland but in Ross and Cromarty). There is documentary evidence that Mr Mitchell was one of the farmers whose sheep were 'stolen' during the insurrection of 1792 and he is quoted in the 'Farmers Magazine' of 1810 as blaming the problems of highland farming on the indolence of the highlanders.

Additionally in Archibald Forbes book 'Glimpses through the Cannon Smoke', published 1880, p. 106. The Michell family is described as ubiquitous, their ancestors having come from England when the Sutherland Clearances were made towards the end of the 18th century. The same page also describes one of the dealers at a London market being 'sedulously plied with drink by "Charlie Mitchell" and some of the other Ross and Sutherland sheep farmers'.
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Re: Mitchell Family Sheepfarming

Postby jimwaugh » Fri Aug 07, 2009 4:57 pm

The land of Ribigill (which was in Lord Reay's estate) saw sheep introduced by Dunlop at Balnaskill in 1800. The final clearence took place in 1816 by Major Forbes at Melness. The main clearances took place 1810-1815 and the population sent to the coast on the north of the estate. Lord Reay was bankrupt in 1829 and the estate sold to the Sutherland Estate.
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Re: Mitchell Family Sheepfarming

Postby John Crae » Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:32 pm

Just got the latest WDYTYA Magazine and more details of James Mitchell's farming pre Ribigill appear in the unseen footage on the CD confirming the family history in Ayrshire and Ross & Cromerty. Presumably this was cut from the TV show either because the programme was too long or because it did not fit with the feel of the story being presented (not a criticism. I recognise that in a short TV show editing is unavoidable).
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Re: Mitchell Family Sheepfarming

Postby Editor » Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:39 pm

You can also see the unseen footage (although not such high quality and you really need broadband) from our website in the section called 'About the Series'. It does show that there was more connection with the clearances than the programme suggests. I like the unseen footage of David Mitchell talking about not crying for the camera, but then I do find him very funny.

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Re: Mitchell Family Sheepfarming

Postby penbex86 » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:10 pm

I was just working through the boxset that I got at Christmas after never having seen this episode before.
What intrigued me, probably due to having my town planning hat on, why were the farmhouse and associated cottages all derelict? Who owns them now?

Did David look into this? I'm surprised he had no interest in bringing them back to life as family homes albeit that he had no real interest in actually sheep farming!!
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Re: Mitchell Family Sheepfarming

Postby colliehouse » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:56 pm

Sadly, many many farm buildings in Caithness and Sutherland are derelict. It is more expensive to renovate old buildings than to build new not only in building costs but even the VAT situation is against renovation. 0% for new build and 5% for renovation (at least it was when I renovated my house). Add on the exorbitant cost of getting services run into remote rural areas and you end up with huge numbers of derelict and semi-derelict properties all over the far north of Scotland.
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