Macalisters in the 1694 Hearth Tax lists

On this day in 1694, Alexander McArthur, subcollector of the hearth tax in the shire of Argyll and Bute, presented to the authorities his list of ‘hearths’ (or dwellings) in these shires. The hearth tax was levied in the 1690s to raise money for one of William II’s wars against Catholic France. Each hearth was assessed at 14 shillings, so that bigger dwellings – those with multiple hearths – paid more. (The very poor were not required to pay the hearth tax.)[1] The lists compiled for this purpose thus give the name of the landholder, the location of the dwelling, and the number of hearths in each.

These lists provide a glimpse into who was living in the area at this point, but some caution is needed as the accuracy and completeness varies from shire to shire. There are nine Macalisters listed in Kintyre; in Knapdale (part of which is now considered North Kintyre) there are eleven. They are settled in small clumps from as far north as Lochgilphead all the way south to the Mull of Kintyre.  The Alexander McAllester residing at Ardpatrick, which is where the Loup family lived at this time, probably represents that family; and John McAllester ‘of Lochead’ – Macalister of Ceannlochcaolisport – is also named. But some Macalister families known to have been in the area are omitted. The Balinakill estate is not listed under any name at all, although it’s possible that Balinakill was between residents and therefore lacked inhabitants to tax.[2] A more glaring omission is Archibald Macalister of Tarbert. There are two Macalisters in Tarbert proper, but neither is an Archibald, and the only Archibald living on Tarbert lands is found not in the castle but on a multiple-tenant farm at Glenakill.

There are also Macalisters who appear on the list in disguise, such as Isobel Campbell of Daill. Isobel was the daughter of Archibald Macalister of Balinakill. She married Malcolm McKellar, wadsetter of Daill, in 1673; staying on the property after his death in 1686, she married again, this time to a Mr Campbell.

Macalister hearths in Kintyre:

Hector & Angus McAlester – 2 hearths in Kilcolmkill (now Keil)

Ronald McAllester & Charles McAllester, 1 each in Kilirvan

Ronald McAllester – 1 in Campbelton

Donald McAllister – 1 in Ulodell (parish of Killean, Saddell & Kilchenzie)

Archibald McAllester – 1 in Bellochger (same)

Allexander McAllister – 1 in Auchaluskin & Killean (same)

Angus McIllester – 1 in Drumore (near Campbelton)

Hendrie McAllester – 1 in Putachan (Killean)

Macalister hearths in Knapdale:

Allexander McAllester – 5 hearths in Ardffadrick (Ardpatrick)

John & Hector McAllester (along with three Smiths, possibly brothers) – 5 hearths in Ashens

Archibald McAllester (along with three other men) – 4 hearths in Glenakill

Allexander and Coll McAllester (along with quite a few others) – 12 hearths in Tarbert

Charles McAllester – 1 in Lochhead

John McAllester of Lochead (probably Ceanlochcaolisport family) – 1 in Lochead

Allexander McAllester – 1 in Ellary

Ranald McAllester – 1 in Brenfeorlin

Duncan McAllester – 1 in Barbe (Barbrae Ross)

Copyright (c) Lynn McAlister, 2012

[2]John Dow Macalister of Balinakill died in 1693; five years later the estate was purchased from a Campbell family by Archibald Macalister.

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