Return to the Fletcher Clan and Family History Research Home


This is a transcript of a typewritten article I received. The author is not attributed but ther reference to members of the Corbet Fletcher family as Aunt Margaret clearly places them within the family. - Gordon Fletcher. April 2003

In 1975 John Corbet Fletcher (1912-1976) said: "The Mull Fletchers came from Glen Orchy about 350 years previously." - ? 1625. "They were an aristocratic sort of family, like "Guards" to the Macleans of Duart who gave Iain Fletcher, a cadet brother of Fletcher of Dunans, a village on the shores of Loch Bà ( believed to be Braghadail - pronounced Braatil or Bra'al ) in recognition of their service." lain Fletcher's ( John at the top of our tree ) gravestone, marked I.F. is now part of a sheep fank in Glen Cannell, made in order to expedite the Clearance [This gravestone does not appear to be now visible although Ordnance Survey maps still indicate an "ancient burial ground" in this area. - GF]. "The Campbells later stole the title deeds" (having already tricked the Fletchers out of Achallader in Glen Orchy in 1567) "and took over the village" - presumably around 1690 when the Campbells took Duart from the Macleans before their return from Killiecrankie. "The war cry was "Seas ar coir" (pronounced shess are core) which means "Maintain our rights".

Any more detail of the Fletchers arrival in Mull remains a mystery. Colonel Archibald Fletcher of Dunans and Lord Maclean do not have any records which would help. The Fletcher records were lost when the Dalmally court-house burnt down. However new building at Duart was completed in 1664 and along with this could have come reorganization and the gift of land. The I.F. on the gravestone in Glen Cannell indicates the anglicization of the Gaelic Mac an fhleisdeir and as Archibald VIII and lain/John were both calling themselves Fletcher ( Archibald VIII being the first to do so ) perhaps this is the missing link. Having spent some years learning some Gaelic the anglicization of the Gaelic name would be the final twist. It is possible that Iain could have been a cadet brother of an earlier chief - Archibald I, Nychole IV or Archibald V but this does not fit with the story that has been handed down. Iain could have been Johne - great grandson of Gillespik - or his son. Here are 2 loose ends that would tie up nicely. John Dow is another possibility. Of course these last two would have been descendents of a cadet brother, so we come back to Archibald VIII. Lachlan Maclean at Knock Farm, Salen says that the Fletchers have been in Mull "for a thousand years" but I am more inclined to believe the version told by Donald Fletcher ( U.D. 1844-1929 Margaret Aunt Maggie 1852-1927 ) and Dr. John Corbet Fletcher 1842-1927 living nearer the time. However I am inclined to believe the local folklore that Knock Farm has not prospered since the sheep fank was built!

J.C.F. 1912-1976: Provost John Fletcher (18?? -1926) [The Provosts of Tobermory were similar in role and status to a town mayor - GF] and Donald Fletcher, Tobermory, were builders at the turn of the 20th. century. John was a first cousin of John Corbet Fletcher (1842-1927) so they must have been sons of any of Neil Fletcher's (1800-1879) (whose occupation on J.C.F's (1842-1927) matriculation details for Glasgow University was contractor) 5 brothers. They built in Mull and Morvern and built Glenborrodale Castle in Ardnamurchan. They were to have rebuilt Ardtornish Castle (Lochaline) after it burnt down (a ruin in 1824) but Patrick Sellar (who had been very active in the Sutherland Clearances and became the owner of Ardtornish in 1838) paid them off! when he decided to do it himself." - Perhaps something to do with his recommendating the destruction of the Glen Cannell Burial Ground! Donald Fletcher ( 1944-1929, Salen ) helped them. He also read Provost John Fletcher's will, the Provost having died about the end of March 1926, which included £30 each for J.C.F's (1842-1927) 7 children, the balance was left to his sister Mary and a MacColl nephew was to have the house. Fletcher Terrace in Tobermory is named.after him.

So it seems to me that Iain/John Fletcher went to Mull around 1625, possibly having already been part of the Macleans' military Staff. He was given Braghadail either when he went to Mull or having been there for a while. The Campbells were in Mull in 1689 when the men were away at Killiecrankie. They took Duart and later the Fletcher village, burnt houses, stripped women and drove away or slaughtered their cattle. Donald Fletcher lived in Salen, and, Mary Exon: "is buried in Pennygown Church in the left hand corner as you go in; some loose stones from the wall fell on the flat grey slate stone some years ago". Neil Fletcher (1750-1826) lived at Baleacrach - correct spelling and pronounciation according to Donald Corbet Fletcher (1802-1957). This is a ruin in Mishnish, west of Penalbannach. Neil Fletcher (1800-1879) married Jane Macculloch Corbet a native of the Black Isle, north of Inverness. Communications, including drove roads to Inverness and Easter Ross were well established. In 1485 the Macleans of Duart organized a Christmas feast at the Mackenzies at Balconie Castle, Contin, which led to the Battle of the Pairc (Strathpeffer). Before the Reformation (1688) Easter Ross was well provided for with libraries and had a flourishing sea trade. Jane's brother Donald Corbet was a Parochial teacher in the parish of Ardnamurchan from 1832, attending the Divinity Hall in Edinburgh at the same time. At the Disruption in 1843 he followed the Free Church and was one of the first. if not the first, teachers at the time to sacrifice his post for his religious principles. Some of his sisters were with him at Kilchoan so Neil Fletcher and John Campbell must have met their future wives as a result. (At that time the crossing from Kilchoan to Tobermory tack 2.5 hours in a rowing boat.) Neil and Jane lived at Penalbannach from about 1838-1845, the ruins are now in amongst Forestry planting. Thay moved to Salen between 1844-1846 as Christina was born in Salen. They were considered to be quite well off as the Salen house was supposed to be the first small house on the island to have slates on its roof.

The population of Mull in 1821 was 10061. In 1826 and 1827 well over 100 people left Tobermory for Cape Breton Island. In 1841 the population had fallen to 10064, in 1871 it was 6441 and by 1891 it had dropped to 5624. The Clearances, making room for sheep, reduced the population by almost half. In 1842 there were 20 crofters and 3 townships in Mishnish (including Baleacrach and Penalbannach). Sorn (now Glengorm) had a long record of earlier clearances rounded off by James Forsythe in the middle of the century with wholesale clearances of cottages and townships. He built a fine new Victorian mansion (Glengorm Castle) on his estate, said to have been built by Neil Fletcher. An old woman with bitter memories of the recent clearances said "Call the place Glengorm" meaning blue glen, commemorating for all time the cruel days when the glen was blue - with the smoke from burning townships.

And so from bad to worse with the Great Potato Famine of 1846, following the potato failure. By 1846 families were starving, penniless and unable to get work. One ejected crofter lived with his wife and 10 children in one room in Tobermory. The children were almost naked and so could not go to school. In another family with 2 children the husband had just returned from working in Glasgow the previous summer because he had smallpox and had just recovered before the next disaster. The population increased in a short time from a few families to 1400 people. A family with 7 or 8 children ejected from Tobermory in May 1848 went to Glasgow The parents and the eldest child were dead within 6 months. The total number of poor persons relieved under the poor-law in the year ending 1.7.1847 was 365. In 1850 132 families from Barra got to Tobermory, 37 went on to Glasgow and some to Edinburgh. They were followed by a further 65 people from Barra.