Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.
Past Times

1972: When hoaxers faked the death of Raasay’s infamous absentee landlord ‘Dr No’

The story was symptomatic of growing resentment over the powers of absentee landlords in the Highlands. 
Susy Macaulay
Image: DCT Design/Clarke Cooper
Image: DCT Design/Clarke Cooper

The P&J’s front page bore a startling headline on this day in 1972.

Dead? Not me, says Dr Green

The Dr Green in question had owned Raasay for the previous seven years and was persona non grata on the island for, among other things, blocking a ferry terminal to allow access from Skye.

“Dr John Green, absentee landlord of Raasay, smiled as he quaffed a glass of beer last night and said: “I’m not dead”, reported the P&J.

He said that telegrams sent to the island’s minister, one of the local councillors and the manager of his farm on the island were the work of a hoaxer.

Headshot of Dr Green from the story in the P&J.

At his home in Bexhill, Sussex, 56  year old Dr Green, called Dr No by islanders for his opposition to a ferry terminal on the island he rarely visited, said: “It must be some sort of practical joke.

“I find it rather funny… and of course I know there are some people in Scotland who would like to see me dead.”

Wife denies involvement

His wife Kathleen said she had not sent telegrams to the island and added: “Someone was using my name without authority.”

The telegrams said he had died and wanted to be buried in Raasay.

One went to Rev Donald Nicholson, the island’s Free Presbyterian minister.

It read: “Kindly officiate at Dr Green’s interment at Raasay next

Funeral date given

Cllr Alastair Nicholson’s telegram said: “Dr Green passed away last night. Funeral Raasay on Wednesday.”

And Norman Ellerchamp, manager of Green’s Raasay Home Farm, got one saying “Regret Dr Green passed away. Funeral Raasay, Wednesday.”

The three telegrams were postmarked Bexhill.

They were signed Kathleen, Dr Green’s wife’s first name.

Raasay House, the large main house on the island.
Raasay House on the island of Raasay.  Image: DCT

Mr Ellercamp said it was the third hoax telegram he had received, others had said Dr Green was coming to the island.

He said, somewhat diplomatically: “What a nasty thing to do. Even people who have had their disagreements with him still have a liking for Dr Green.”

Mr Ellercamp phoned police in Bexhill, who investigated and an officer found Dr Green “alive and well and smoking his pipe.”

Dr Green had bought Raasay from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for £4000 in 1964.

A wide view of the island of Raasay.
Oskaig, a crofting settlement on Raasay, looking over the Sound of Raasay to the Red Cullins on the Isle of Skye. Image: Alan Milligan/DCT.

The island’s population was plunging, and the hope was for a progressive landlord who would listen to and act upon the islanders’ needs.

But Dr Green visited the island only twice, and meanwhile stood in the way of every proposed development.

He blocked the sale of small tract of land in the perfect spot to build a slipway for a car ferry.

Compulsory purchase not possible

Islanders looked to the Highlands and Island Development Board (HIDB) to come to their aid, using its powers of compulsory purchase, but lawyers found the 1965 legislation was too weak to enforce the purchase.

There followed years of community campaigning and political wrangling.

A slipway was eventually built, but in a less favoured site.

After years of bitter wrangling and a public inquiry,  Raasay’s long-suffering population finally got their lifeline daily ferry service in 1975.


The CalMac ferry Loch Striven approaches the Raasay ferry terminal from Skye. This terminal opened in 2010. Built in front of Raasay House, it replaced the 70s pier at Suishnish in the south of the island. Image: DCT.

Dr Green became notorious as exemplifying all the was negative in Scotland’s feudal landownership.

Parliament told of ‘shameful scandal’

In 1973, MP for Inverness Russell Johnson told Parliament: “Nothing in nine years’ experience of representing the constituency of Inverness remotely compares with the bitter frustration I have had in trying to get something achieved in the island of Raasay, and what I feel can be only a pale shadow of what the islanders themselves feel.

“I am not in the habit of using exaggerated language for effect, but I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that the way in which the islanders have been treated by Dr. Green—the man who owns, as a result of successive sales by the Department of Agriculture since 1961, the most significant properties in the key area of the island—and by the authorities, local, regional and national, which have the responsibility for acting for the public good is a total, unmitigated, shameful scandal.”

And still battling for adequate HIDB compulsory purchase powers in 1990, Brian Wilson, then MP for Cunninghame North also cited the Raasay case in Westminster.

‘Malign power’

He said: “On the island of Raasay there was the ultimate in obstructive Highland landowners, Dr. John W. Green of Cooden in Sussex, an eccentric by any standard, who had acquired his properties from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland in a sale which I believe to this day would have some difficulty in standing legal scrutiny.

“For reasons that were perverse, to say the least, he decided to use that power of ownership specifically to obstruct any possibility of development on Raasay. The population of Raasay plummeted, Dr. Green sat in Sussex and nothing could happen on Raasay because of the malign power that he exerted.”

Dr Green sold his Raasay properties to HIDB in 1979 for £135,000. He had previously also owned the island of Scalpay, off Skye.

More from our On this Day series:

1965: Joy as Calum Kennedy buys the Tivoli theatre

1994: The brutal shooting of a Bangladeshi waiter in Orkney that prompted a 14-year mystery