Constable George Mackenzie
The retirement is intimated this week of Police Constable George MacKenzie, Garve, after almost 40 years continuous faithful and zealous service.
Constable Mackenzie joined the police in July 1885. He has seen service under four Chief Constables, the late Mr Munro, the late Mr Gordon, the late Mr Macaulay and the present Chief constable Captain Finlayson, O.B.E.
Constable Mackenzie’s first station was Ullapool, where he remained for a year and a half. He proceeded to Aultbea, the centre of a very large district. For twelve years he remained in the West, whence he was transferred to Evanton, where he was stationed for fourteen years. For the past eleven years, Constable Mackenzie has been at Garve.
During his long career in the force, Constable MacKenzie has had many varied experiences. Shortly after he went to Ullapool he proved his alertness. A theft was reported to him from Ardmair, and having espied a suspicious looking character passing through Ullapool he set out on the chase towards Garve. There were no coaches in those days and the constable had to walk. Calling at houses on the wayside, it was not till 3am the following morning when he reached Aultguish Inn, that a tramp was found in the barn, where he had gone without the tenant being aware of it, and arrested. The stolen property was recovered, and, the same day, in Dingwall Sheriff Court, the culprit was sent to prison for 32 days, while Constable Mackenzie was congratulated on his smart capture.
The stolen property consisted of 11/3 and a gold sovereign. The latter had been handed down from generation to generation in the family and an old established custom, was used as a good omen to keep the “Evil Eye” from the cattle. The process was to put water on the gold coin and sprinkle this over the cattle, the belief being that no harm would then come to them. The owner was exceedingly pleased and proud to recover the sovereign. It may be interesting to the people of the district to know that the owner was well-known as “Old Forty”.
The Garrabost Land league riots in the Lewis in 1888 was another occasion when Constable MacKenzie was selected for special service. He was one of the 12 constables who faced 2000 excited people. Over a dozen arrests were made, but the policeman had a cruel time facing the hail of stones that were showered on them. Constable Mackenzie was again on duty at the Ness riots in 1902 when the subject of dispute was the Union of the Churches.
Possessed of a kindly, genial disposition, he made many friends in Ross-shire. Indeed, it can be said, he had not a single enemy. He had an intelligent knowledge of his duties, but while firm in his attitude to law breakers, he was lenient to a degree. He thoroughly appreciated the fact that he was there to prevent crime and not secure cases. His friends wish him all happiness in his retirement.