(1851-1924) became headmaster of Balallan School from 1873-1874.
Balallan, meaning "Allan's Town", is a crofting township on
Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. He was the son of
Alexander Macrae and Catherine who came from Plockton,
Ross-shire. He made a very strong impact in the community during
his short stay of two years. He was a strong Land Leaguer and he
helped the crofters in every possible way, including the
measurement of their crofts following the Crofters Act of 1886.
The penury of the crofter touched him very much - so much so
that he organized the Park Deer Raid, 1887 at considerable risk
to his professional standing.
In 1887, tenants of
the Pairc Estate on Lewis in the Western Isles of Scotland
staged a raid on the laird’s land. The laird had devoted much of
the land to deer- hunting, regarding the crofters as a hindrance
Led by the local
schoolmaster in Balallan, Donald MacRae, the six men spent two
days killing deer on the huge estate, distributing the carcasses
to the locals left impoverished by the landowners, the Mathesons.
By night, however,
MacRae was clever enough to get the Scottish press onside – a
decision that reaped benefits when the group was sent for trial
to Edinburgh after the authorities panicked and decided to come
down hard on the deer-hunters.
Before the raid,
villages on the estate had been systematically cleared,
according to historical records, by the Mathesons – first of
sheep, then of people – to ensure that the hunts by the laird’s
guests for trophies were not stymied.
Despite a hostile
summing-up from the judge in Edinburgh, the six, who had been
charged with riot, were acquitted by the jury, while MacRae was
carried shoulder-high to the Prince of Wales for a night’s
Today, a monument
stands at the edge of Baile Ailein on the island “in fitting
tribute to one of the most peaceful yet influential protests
made in the history of the Crofters’ Wars”, according to the
In 1891, Macrae
agreed to defend the men who had attempted to resettle Orinsay
Farm, in the Orinsay Trials.