December 4, 2020
From ‘EAST OF ABERFOYLE‘By Marjorie Clark
A fascinating bit of trivia, that always intrigued me, appears on page 48, the Crieff section of the Annals of Puslinch 1850-1950. Under a heading of lot 22, rear of the Gore of Puslinch, it reads: “A man known as the Muloch lived in a shanty on the west side of this lot in the 1860’s.”
That’s it. There are no more details. Presumably the writer knew nothing more about “The Muloch”. Nor does any other documentation exist about him. Maps and land records list only the owner of the lot. The Muloch was very likely a squatter. The Highland Scottish families, who arrived in the early years of 1828-1840 allowed the poorer emigrants, evicted from their land in Scotland in later clearances, to live on corners of their land, which were not under crop. These later people worked for the land owners in Puslinch until they had accumulated sufficient funds to purchase land in other newly-opened areas like Bruce County or Michigan. An Ancestry search of Puslinch and adjacent Beverly Township yielded no-one of the surname Muloch. To my frustration, I could discover nothing more about this man.
Therefore, my eyes opened wide, when I read in John Prebble’s book, The Highland Clearances, of an Irish reporter by the name of Thomas Mulock, who spent time in Inverness covering the clearances. Could this be, I asked myself, the Muloch of Puslinch? Might he have emigrated here with the Highlanders?
Upon investigation, I learned that Thomas Mulock was born in 1791 in Dublin, the third son of Thomas Mulock of Kilnagarna. He began a multifaceted career by attending Oxford. He became a lawyer and opened a practice in partnership with a Mr. Blood in Liverpool. He left law to lecture on English literature at the Pitt Club of the University of Cambridge, in Geneva and in Paris and to write for newspapers. Then, he entered the Baptist ministry and founded a chapel at Stoke-Upon-Trent in Staffordshire.
On June 7, 1825, he married Dinah Millard in Stoke-Upon-Trent. He was writing articles for the Chronicle in Liverpool in 1831. By 1841, the couple were now parents of three children, Dinah Maria (1826-1887), Thomas (c.1828-1847) and Benjamin Robert (c.1830-1863). They lived in Brompton, Kensington, Middlesex. Thomas was constantly in debt, due to lawsuits provoked by his inflammatory writing style.
In October 1849, Thomas went to Scotland, where he began as an editoral writer for the Inverness Advertiser. He lodged at 14 Douglas Row in Inverness in 1851. When the paper changed ownership, he was made editor.
He covered the clearances, documenting the injustice and brutality of the removals, without considering the newspaper’s circulation or advertising revenue. The tenant farmers were evicted from their homes, the roofs set ablaze and pulled down as they watched. They had nowhere to go with their families and their livestock and their crops were left in the field. No exceptions were made for the elderly, infirm or ill. Then, the people were on the verge of starvation and some died from exposure. In some instances, they were alloted infertile land on the seashores by the landlords, where they were expected to fish for a living and they tried to do that. This was perpetrated all over the Highlands. Few came forth to attempt to put a stop to this barbarity. Instead the clearances were touted by the landlords as “improvements”. Today this treatment of the Highland Scottish people would be called a genocide.
Thomas Mulock made a journey to Sollas on North Uist and another to Glenelg in Ross-shire, where 500 people were being sent to Canada in a compulsory emigration, on the Sillery. They had been forcibly removed from their land in 1849. To give the articles wider circulation and to pay his debts, Thomas Mulock published them in a book.
By 1853, he had left the Highlands. He was reported to be in Paris, where he started an English language newspaper. In 1861, Thomas Mulock was not in Puslinch. He had returned to Staffordshire, England, where he died in 1869.
It appears, then, that “The Muloch” in Puslinch was, in all likelihood, a man by another family name, nicknamed by the Highland settlers, as they so frequently did, for some association or similarity with Thomas Mulock, reporter in Inverness in 1851.