In 1819 Lord Reay instructed his factor to survey his lands at Skerray in North Sutherland so that he could place there, “able young men as small tenants who could be employed as fishermen”.
Sleitell was the first area surveyed and it was expected to provide home and work for four tenants. The township was one mile from a proposed harbour, Lord Reay planned to build at Skerray. However, in 1829 the Sutherland family, notorious for the eviction of their Strathnaver tenants between 1813 and 1819, acquired Lord Reay’s property.
But unlike the Strathnaver Clearances, Skerray Summons seem to have been issued in order that the size of the holdings could be adjusted, rather than to remove the tenants.
George Mackay’s memories of staying with his grandparents at Sletell painted a picture of a wonderful place – “I loved Sleitell, it was the most fantastic place I knew. We boys had a wonderful time there with bows and arrows, catapults, picking crowberries and fishing in the loch and burn.”