Saturday, July 15, 2023

Sovereignty and Ownership of the Isle of Eigg

Here's an overview of the sovereignty and ownership of the Isle of Eigg.

   “A perfectly secluded island of the Old World, the very beautiful island of Eigg.”
       - Advertisement 1966

“The history of Eigg is, in part, a history of the whole of Scotland. It may not have stood in the mainstream of events but it has caught all the backwash and contributed not a little of its own. Prehistoric man settled Eigg as did the early Christians and Vikings. It provided a base from which the Lords of the Isle rose to power and later came under the aegis of the Clanranald chiefs and was caught up in their piratical clan wars. Men from Eigg supported the Jacobite cause. When it was suppressed, the Clanranalds - their power gone and fortune spent - sold Eigg. During the 19th century, it was owned by a series of extraordinary industrial barons who lavished their money on the island. Today, modem life and taxation have produced a new approach to island-owning and living.
       - Judy Urquhart writing in Eigg, (Canongate, published 1987).

There have been eight (8) owners of the Isle of Eigg in modern times:
  • In 1828 the Clanranalds sold Eigg to Dr. Hugh Macpherson for £15,000.
  • In 1917 it was sold to Sir William Petersen, a Dane.
  • In 1925 Sir Walter Runciman bought it from Petersen’s executors for £15,000. At his death it passed to his son, Sir Steven.
  • In 1966 Sir Steven Runciman sold it to Captain Robert Evans, a Shropshire landowner for £82,000.
  • In 1971 he sold it to Bernard Farnhum-Smith for £120,000.
  • In 1975 Keith Schellenberg bought it for £250,000.
  • In 1989, after a protracted legal suit with his former wife, he was ordered by the Court of Session to sell it.
  • In 1997, the year in which Eigg finally came into community ownership
The early focus of The Eigg Trust was to purchase the property, either outright or to participate in a joint purchase with another trust with compatible aims. The trust offered the prospect that when a future visitor asks who owns Eigg, the response, will not be a German factory magnate, English pop star, Swiss banker, Saudi oil sheik, Dutch syndicate, aristocratic heir, racing car driver, insurance company or any other sort of "laird", but simply, "Us ... held in trust for people and nature".
        - The Edinburgh Review, Edinburgh University Press, No. 88, 1992, pp. 158-162. "internet version from"