Wednesday, 27 September 2006

Matheson Memorial

<![CDATA[ Matheson MemorialToday, the renovated Matheson Memorial was officially inaugurated in the Stornoway Castle Grounds, following a major refurbishment. Those arriving into Stornoway by ferry may be familiar with the monument, which stands on a hill overlooking the harbour.

It was erected by the wife of Sir James Matheson (1796 - 1878) in his memory. The inaugural ceremony was attended by representatives of the Matheson Clan and from the Jardine-Matheson company, co-founded by James Matheson in the 1820s.

Sir James Matheson made his fortune in the opium trade, and could arguably be referred to as a drugsbaron. This may well elicit a few gasps of horror in certain circles, but it should be born in mind that Great Britain went to war to protect its interests in said opium trade. At the end of the Opium Wars, Hong Kong was occupied by Britain, only to be ceded back to the People's Republic of China in 1997.

Matheson meanwhile returned to Scotland in 1842 and purchased the Isle of Lewis. For his efforts to alleviate the effects of the potato famine (1846/7) in Lewis, he was awarded a baronetcy in 1851.

Matheson was also responsible for the clearance of the southern half of Park (Eishken), with the 36 villages I have blogged about before. Sheep being more profitable than people, I presume. ]]>

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