Clearance Villages

Applecross has the remains of a number of Clearance and abandoned villages. The information below relates to the abadoned township of Torgarve and has been kindly compiled by Gordon Cameron and Alistair McCowan of the Applecross Historical Society.


Torgarve township, now largely hidden by a coniferous plantation, was long a crofting township and populated for centuries. The census from 1841 gives an indication of the community living there at the time:

Torgarve 1841 Census

Heads of family: Kenneth MacRae (farmer aged 30), wife and three kids; Donald MacRae (farmer aged 35), with his brother, and one child; Mary Matheson (60), with two children and one grandchild; Roderick MacDonald (farmer aged 50), wife + eight  kids;  James MacKenzie (farmer aged 34),  wife and three kids;  John MacLean ( hand loom weaver aged 45), wife and child; Catherine MacDonald (day labourer aged 50), and four  grown-up children; Roderick MacRae (farmer aged 28),  wife, kid and two relations. Total population 40 (8 households)

Subsequent surveys reveal that the population dropped significantly between 1841 and 1851, and then was roughly constant until the turn of the 20th century.

1851 Census : Total population : 19 (6 households); 1861 Census: Total population: 12 (5 households;  only four under the age of 20); 1871 Census: Data unavailable at the Heritage Centre;  1881 Census: Total population:  10 (5 households; 4 single people plus one family). Fisherman, garden labourer, farm servant, scholar, former dairymaids; 1891 Census: Total population: 14 (3 households) Two MacBeath families, and one MacLean family. Shepherd; cottar; farm  labourer;  1901 Census: Total population: 16 (3 households) Same three families as in 1891. Heads of families were all farm labourers.

Until the mid-1950s there was one full-time family living at Torgarve. The head of the family was the baillie on the farm, and so was known as ‘the Baillie’! Dr Alexander Gillies remembers going up there when he was a young doctor in Applecross in 1953/4 to treat the Baillie for something in the middle of the night.  When Alistair McCowan was a student at Queens University Belfast, the professor of logic and metaphysics was Alexander MacBeath, a crofter’s son from Torgarve!



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