Fàilte! (Welcome!)

Fàilte! (Welcome!)
This blog is the result of my ongoing research into the people, places and events that have shaped the Western Isles of Scotland and, in particular, the 'Siamese-twins' of Harris and Lewis.
My interest stems from the fact that my Grandfather was a Stornowegian and, until about four years ago, that was the sum total of my knowledge, both of him and of the land of his birth.
I cannot guarantee the accuracy of everything that I have written (not least because parts are, perhaps, pioneering) but I have done my best to check for any errors.
My family mainly lived along the shore of the Sound of Harris, from An-t-Ob and Srannda to Roghadal, but one family 'moved' to Direcleit in the Baighs...

©Copyright 2011 Peter Kerr All rights reserved

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Harris Millers

Here are the records of Millers as recorded in the censuses for 1841-1901:

1841
Donald Macaulay , 50, Miller, Obb, b. Inverness

1851
John Macaulay, 30, Miller, VISITOR,Port Esgein, Farm of Strond, b. Harris
Angus Morrison, 26, Blacksmith and Miller, Obe, b. Harris

1861
John Macaulay, 50, Corn Miller, VISITOR, Oab, b. Harris
(Wife, Marion( MS Kerr), at home in Breasdale, Uig, Lewis)

Angus Morrison, 36, Blacksmith, Oab, b. Harris

Matthew Macauley, 23, Miller, Kendebig, b. Harris
Angus Macsween, 33, Assistant Miller, Kendibig, b. Harris

1871-1901 – None Listed

Several questions immediately rise from these slim returns, including what were these particular men milling, where were their mills and why do they disappear after 1861?

John Knox, in  'A Tour through the Highlands of Scotland, and the Hebride Isles, in MDCCLXXXVI', records that Captain Alexander Macleod, when he was establishing the Harbour and House at Rodel, also constructed a 'corn and fulling' mill, with them both powered by one single water-wheel. There are other remains of water-powered mills on the island but it is also known that much of the corn-milling was done domestically by hand.

In 1841 and 1851 our sole miller is in An-t-Ob and then in 1861 we have just a pair of millers and they are in Ceann Dibig, the township adjacent to Direcleit in the Bays.

John Macaulay, the Miller from Breascleit, Uig, Lewis is the husband of Marion Macaulay (MS Kerr) and in 1851 is visiting his widowed Mother-in-Law at Port Esgein, Farm of Strond. His wife was the daughter of Angus Kerr the Shoemaker who a decade earlier was in the household of the Factor in Rodel.

Intriguingly, in 1861 John Macaulay is visiting none-other than Angus Morrison, the Blacksmith who a decade earlier had 'and Miller' appended to his occupation. He may still have been fulfilling that secondary role in 1861, hence this visit from miller Macaulay?

This entry: on Muilinn Mhiabhaig explains that Matthew and John Macaulay were millers at the mill in Meavaig but it also suggests that it is the only listed mill on Harris which cannot be correct given the presence of earlier millers in An-t-Ob and John Knox's account of Captain Alexander Macleod constructing milling facilities at Rodel? Another puzzle!

Angus Morrison, the Blacksmith and (sometime) Miller, was a son of John Morrison, 'Gobha na Hearadh', who had been the Blacksmith in An-t-Ob before Angus but had moved to Leac a Li at the time of the Disruption because his favouring the Free Church found him out of favour with the Church of Scotland establishment. John proved as good, if not better, at fashioning hymns out of words as he was at fashioning goods out of metal.

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