CollectionGB 3380 Scottish Catholic Archives, Historic Archives
Ref NoSCA CS/3
Extent1 file; 0 vols; 0.001m
Creator NameHighland Vicariate
Administrative HistorySamalaman was the new location decided upon to house the Highland seminary in 1783. The Colleges predecessor at Buorblach had been closed in 1779 and for four years there had been no seminary to serve and educate the Highland priests. During the four year lapse, Highland boys were sent to be educated at Scalan, the seminary for the Lowland Vicariate. In order to rectify the situation, the Vicar Apostolic for the Highlands, Bishop Alexander MacDonald, entered into a long land lease with the regions proprietor Clannranald for a remarkably cheap and fixed price. The seminary was situated near the shores of Loch Ailort in Moidart right where the loch meets the sea and just across the sound from the old seminary at Guidal. By 1783 two houses had been built on the new site and were ready to house the seminaries teachers and students. The two buildings were originally constructed to serve as offices and were intended to house the kitchen and servants quarters, but debts forced them to be used as the seminarys house and classrooms. The Highland colleges had long been plagued by debt problems, which had brought on the failure of Buorblach and its predecessors. This fact meant that Samalaman was under constant threat of closure.
The fear of incurring more debts kept Bishop MacDonald from enrolling more than four or five boys at the seminary at one time. The precarious situation found at the seminary continued on after the death of Bishop MacDonald in 1791. His successor, Bishop Chisholm, inherited the Vicariate, and with it all the problems that came with the seminary. Although a new main building had been constructed in 1789 to house the Bishop and the colleges teachers, thanks to finances from Rome, the seminary was still in deep financial trouble. Bishop Chisholm himself complained about the wretched state of the seminary in multiple letters to Rome and the Lowland Vicar Apostolic, Bishop Hay. The monetary problems greatly diminished the quality of the boys educations, as did their key role in farming. The abilities of the boys from the Highland seminary proved to be a constant topic of complaint from the Scots Colleges abroad and everyone agreed that something had to change in order rectify the situation. Bishop Chisholm believed that the new Lowland seminary at Aquhorties was the solution.
There were eight students at Samalaman when the new Lowland seminary was constructed in 1799. Since the new seminary was built on such a grand scale, Bishop Chisholm suggested that it serve as a college for both the Vicariates. The idea was rejected by Bishop Hay on numerous occasions, forcing Bishop Chisholm to find another solution. It was obvious that the Highlands required a seminary that could meet the needs of the regions youth, especially since by 1799 the Scots Colleges of Paris, Douai and Rome had closed. The Bishop had no choice but to form a new all-through seminary in his Highland district, however, he did not believe that Samalaman was an adequate location for the College.
In 1801 Bishop Chisholm purchased a tract of farm land at Kilcheron on Lismore. The students and teachers moved to the new location in 1803. This was to be the new location of the Highland seminary until the opening of Blairs College in 1829. Samalaman, like its predecessors had been chronically short of money, which continued on until the opening of the College at Blairs in 1829. Still, Samalaman played a vital role in the provision of Gaelic-speaking priests for the Highland Vicariate of Scotland. Bishops of Samalaman:
Alexander Macdonald (1783-1791)
John Chisholm (1792-1803)
DescriptionTranscript of Tack of Samalaman
Access StatusOpen
Closed Until01/01/2011
OriginalsThis is the original
CopiesThere are no known copies
Publication NoteChristine Johnson, Developments in the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, 1789-1829. Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers LTD., 1983.
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