SUE Archive: Brief History and Contents

The South Uist Estates Archive contains a wide range of documents, including correspondance, rentals, township bundles and maps, relating to the mid 19th to late 20th century history of the island communities of Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay and Barra.

Brief History and Contents

In the early 19th century with the final demise of the old clan order, properties throughout the islands passed to new owners.  The eclipse of Clanranald and MacNeil of Barra enabled Colonel Gordon of Cluny, Aberdeenshire, to add Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay together with Barra and the Barra Isles to his already extensive portfolio of mainland properties.

These new properties were known as Colonel Gordon’s ‘Long Island Estate’. The papers on the management of this estate, the rentals, etc., accumulated and were added to by successive owners. The name also changed and latterly the estate was known as ‘South Uist Estates Ltd’.

The South Uist Estates archive therefore comprises surviving papers and documents from the following periods and owners:

  • 1838 – 1858 Colonel Gordon of Cluny, Aberdeenshire
  • 1858 – 1878 Col Gordon’s son and heir, John Gordon of Cluny
  • 1878-1932 Mrs. Gordon, John Gordon’s second wife and widow, who became Lady Gordon Cathcart when she was remarried in 1880 to Sir Reginald Cathcart and who continued as proprietor until her death in 1932.
  • 1932 – 1944 the Trustees of Lady Gordon Cathcart
  • 1944 – 1960 Herman Anton Andreae, a London banker
  • 1960 – 2006 South Uist Estates Ltd, a small company with a board of like-minded individuals with sporting interests popularly known as ‘the syndicate’.

Over the years Barra and the Barra Isles and parts of Benbecula and South Uist were sold (e.g. to the Department of Agriculture Scotland, the MOD, the Nature Conservancy Council).  In 2006 South Uist Estates Ltd. sold the remaining estate lands and properties to the community and most of Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay are now held in community ownership by a community company, Sealladh na Beinne Mòire, trading as Stòras Uibhist.


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