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

Monday, 31 May 2010

Commercial Travellers in Stornoway

I have grouped these gentlemen by residence and highlighted their goods, where specified:

Duncan Macpherson, 27, Wine and Spirit, Visitor, 1 North Beach Street, b. Appen, Argyllshire

Francis Adam, 23, Boarder, 10 North Beach Street, b. Ballater, Aberdeen
James Campbell, 34, Boarder, 10 North Beach Street, b. Little Dunkeld, Perth
Alexander Robertson, 38, Boarder, 10 North Beach Street, b. Blairgowrie, Perth

Murdo Mackenzie, 36, Boarder, 3&5 North Beach Street (Temperance Hotel), b. Lochbroom, Ross

William Mair, Spirits, Boarder, Lewis Hotel North Beach Street, b. Glasgow
George Reid, 34, Spirits, Boarder, Lewis Hotel North Beach Street, b. County Down, Ireland
William C Swan, 25, Grain, Boarder, Lewis Hotel North Beach Street, b. Muckairn, Argylleshire
John Laird, 27, Leather, Boarder, Lewis Hotel North Beach Street, b. Firth, Orkney
David Dalziell, 36, Fancy Goods, Boarder, Lewis Hotel North Beach Street, b. Kirkconnel, Dumfriess-shire

William Macintosh, 48, Visitor, Imperial Hotel, b. Weasdale(?), Sutherland-shire

John Gordon, 26, Boarder, 8,9,10 North Beach Street, b. Fodderty, Ross-shire
Donald Murchison, 44, Boarder, 8,9,10 North Beach Street, b. Applecross, Ross-shire

John Annal, 33, Boarder, Royal Hotel (Cromwell St), b. Orkney, South Ronaldsay
Dugald Macfaden, 39, Boarder, Royal Hotel (Cromwell St), b. Kilfinichan, Argyll

William Harper, 23, Drapery, Boarder, 8,9,10 North Beach Street, b. Birse, Aberdeen
Archibald Smith, 46, Drapery, Boarder, 8,9,10 North Beach Street, b. Glassary, Argyllshire
David G Morrison, 55, Woollens, Boarder, 8,9,10 North Beach Street, b. Brechin, Forfar

William Hume, 35, Visitor, 76 Cromwell Street, b. Chirnside, Berwickshire

D G Maclennan, Boarder, 25 South Beach Street, b. Campbeltown, Argyllshire

Clearly, regardless of whether one was in Wines and Spirits, Grain, Leather, Fancy Goods, Drapery, Woollens or whatever, North Beach Street was the location of choice for the 19thC Commercial Traveller visiting Stornoway.

Ground Officers of Harris

These were the men who kept an eye to see that the tenants, and others, were obeying the Estate's rules regarding the land they occupied. I have indicated their locations but should point out that John Morrison of Lingerbay was the South Harris Estate Officer.

John Macaulay, 60, Ardhasaig, b. Inverness

John Macleod, 49, Port Esgein, b. Harris

John Macaulay, 84, Ardhasaig, b. Harris
John Morrison, 40, Lingerbay, b. Harris
Catherine Macleod, 60, Ground Officer's Widow, Strond, b. Harris

Malcolm Macualay, 57, b. Harris
John Morrison, 60, Lingerbay, b. Harris

Malcolm Macaulay, 70, Ardhasaig 64, b. Harris
John Morrison, 74, South Harris, b. Harris

Malcolm Macaulay, 79, No 19 Ardhasaig, b. Harris
Alexander Morrison, 37, Bayhead, b. Harris

Alexander Morrison, 46, Bayhead, b. Harris

Ploughmen of Harris in 1861

It struck me, whilst reading of feannagan cultivation, that a reasonably reliable indicator of the fertile farms of Harris could be had by seeking those who ploughed them:

Angus Mclean, 30, Island of Ensay, b. North Uist
Angus Kerr, 33, Rodil House, b. Harris
John Macuspal(?), 33, Scarista Veg, b. Harris
John Morrison, 52, Big Borve, b. Harris
Neil McCuish, 36, Luskintyre, b. Uist
Norman Macaskill, 48, ??? House, Island of Tarrinsay, b. Harris

John Macdonald, 20, West Tarbert, b. Harris

So there we have them, from Ensay in the Sound, via Rodel, then up the West Coat Machair to Taransay, the farms of Harris in 1861. For some reason no other census records more than a couple of ploughmen – perhaps in later years it had become more commonplace for those working on the farms to share that particular duty? - I do not know, but in 1861 those were the ploughmen of Harris.

Fishers of Harris

Another somewhat crude interrogation of the censuses, this time looking at males recording 'fisher' or 'fisherman', but removing those who were a fisher or fisherman's son.

1841                 49
1851 230-56=174
1861 340-66=274
1871 517-44=473
1881 630-64=566
1891 492-06=486
1901 498-12=484

1841, it should be remembered, is unreliable in recording all the occupations of occupants at an address so we can only properly examine the second-half of the century.

The numbers of fishermen increased by 57% from 1851-1861 and by a staggering 73% in the following decade. Growth slows to a more serene 20% during the 1870s but the result is that for every 4 fishermen in 1851 there were 13 by 1881.

The 14% decline from this peak to the figures of 1891 and 1901 (which is the only decade to demonstrate stability) might reflect, in part, the effects of re-crofting on Harris but I cannot be sure of the importance of this factor. If nothing else, these figures echo the phrase from the evidence to the Napier Commission of men 'turning their backs on the land to face the sea'...

Mackae's Buildings, Plantation Street, Stornoway 1901

This address appears in the 1901 census as home to 37 people in these 7 households:

George Donald, 36, Postman, Head, b. Stornoway
Alexander J Kerr, 44, Seaman, Head, b. Stornoway
Alexander Lamont, 40, Woollen Weaver, Head, b. Portree
Malcolm Macdonald, 31, Insurance Agent, Head, b. Uig, Ross-shire
(Alexanderina, 38, Sick Nurse (Formerly), Wife, b. Kinlochbervie, Sutherlandshire)
William Maciver, 57, Brewer's Agent and Dealer, Head, b. Stornoway
John Mackenzie, 45, Mason (Contractor), Head, b. Stornoway
Murdo Macleod, 49, Mason Contractor, Head, b. Uig, Ross-shire

A varied group that includes one of only two references to brewing in Stornoway ,the other being the 19 year-old Brewer's Apprentice Malcolm MacIntyre, son of the Hotel Keeper at 25 South Beach Street's Imperial hotel.

Obviously it was the presence of Alexander J Kerr that first led me here, but I have no idea where 'Mackae's Buildings' were on 'Plantation St' in 1901. Plantation Road appears on the 1881-1901 censuses as 'Plantation St' so I presume that the name was changed at some time during the 20thC?

If anyone knows of Mackae's Buldings (or when the street became a road) please get in touch.

Sewing Mistresses of Harris

These are the ladies as recorded in the 1841-1901 censuses. I have made comments following each census:

Mary Galbraith, 37, Teacher of Embroidery, Wife, b. Ireland

Mary, who lived at the house built by the Countess of Dunmore for the Gardener (Henry Galbraith) is not strictly a 'Sewing Mistress' but I have included her for the sake of completeness.

Jessie E Macrae, 24, Embroidery School Mistress, Head, b. Thurso, Caithness-shire
(Mary Galbraith, 47, Teacher of Embroidery, Wife, b. Ireland)
Mary Macaulay, 21, School Mistress, Industrial School, b. Stornoway

It would be interesting to know when Mary Galbraith first had an assistant but I presume that Jessie's presence is indicative of the success of the Emroidery School at this time.

Mary Macaulay has been included because this is the only reference I have found specifically to an 'Industrial School' in Harris. There were 34 people at the address 'Industrial School' in 5 households but the precise location is unknown to me.

Jessie Brunton, 32, Sewing Mistress 'Elm School', Wife, b. Meigle, Perthshire
Mary Mackinnon Jnr, 32, Sewing Mistress (School), Sister, Crofter's Dwelling House, b. Harris
Bella Macrae, 30, Housemaid and Sewing Mistress, South Harris Niece, b. Lochalsh, Ross
Mary Morrison, 37, Sewing Mistress, Daughter, East Tarbert 32, b. Harris
Isabella Macaskill, 25, Sewing Mistress, Sister-in-Law, Missionary's House, b. Lochs

We do not see our first Sewing Mistresses until 1881 following the introduction of the the Education Act (Scotland) 1872. Was 'Elm School' a name, or merely shorthand for 'Elementary'? It might even be 'Embroidery'... Our one precise location is East Tarbert but I would like to know where in North Harris the 'missionary's House' was.

Margaret Macrae, 39, Sewing Mistress, Wife, Finsbay, b.Uig, Lewis
Christy Gillanders, 29, Sewing Mistress, Daughter, Private House, Geocrab, b. Lewis
Jane Brown, 37, Sewing Mistress, Wife, Public Schoolhouse, Kyles Stockinish, b. Loudon, Ayrshire
Jessie Young, 21, Teacher's Wife Sewing Mistress, Wife, 19 Drinishader, b. Harris
Marion Duncan, 36, Sewing Mistress, Wife, Public School, North Harris, b. Harris
Mary Morrison, 47, Sewing Mistress, Daughter, No 10 East Tarbert, b. Harris
Peggy Morrison, 22, Sewing Mistress, Daughter, Scalpay No 74, b. Harris
Bessie Mackinnon, 53, Sewing Mistress, Sister, Scalpay No 56, b. Harris
Catherine S Smith, 30, Sewing Mistress, Sister, Scalpay No 25, b. Kilfinan, Argyll

A very noticeable shift has taken place with the appearance of the four ladies in the Bays from Finsbay, via Geocrab and Kyles Stockinish, to Drinishader. Mary Morrison is still in East Tarbert and Scalpay makes a significant, and intriguing, appearance.

Catherine Campbell, 26, Sewing Mistress, Daughter, 7 Plocrapool, b. Harris
Maggie Simpson, 33, Sewing Mistress 'Occasional', Wife, School house, Drinishader, b. Glasgow

What we can say is that, for a brief time in the late 19thC, there were several ladies working specifically as Sewing Mistresses and that their numbers and distribution again reflect the general trend away from the South as the home of innovation.

There are several obvious gaps here such as where are the Sewing Mistresses for the Schools in the South after 1881?, or of Tarbert in 1901? It may be that several of those teaching Sewing are 'hidden' amongst those not specifying a subject on the census returns.

Whatever the reason, at least we have these recorded Sewing Mistresses of Harris.

Update: As a result of researching some more of the web of connections in the isles, I have discovered that Bessie Mackinnon, the Sewing Mistress in Scalpay in 1891, was the sister-in-law of my 3rd great aunt Ann Kerr. Bessie was the daughter of the blind tailor, Alexander MacKinnon who was cleared from Abhainnsuidhe to ake way for the castle there in the 1860s and Ann Kerr, my aunt, was the daughter of the tailor John Kerr of Direcleit, Harris.

The Case for State Medical Services for the Poor The Highlands & Islands 1850 by Dr Morrice McCrae

A fascinating piece from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh that can be seen here:

Sunday, 30 May 2010

British Listed Buildings

I mentioned this excellent site in my piece on Stornoway's Builders but it is so good (the site, not my piece!) that I thought I'd make this brief entry to bring it to your attention: http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/ Enjoy!

North Harris Demographics

This is a somewhat crude (but careful!) look at the population of North Harris (as defined for census purposes) from 1881 onwards.

Please not that these are the results of a fairly rough interrogation of a database so the figures are meant for indicative purposes only.

2929 people, 1469 (50%) male, 1463 (50%) female
551Households 447 (81%) male, 104 (19%) female

3120 people, 1479 (47%) male, 1656 (53%) female
555 Households 425 (77%) male, 132 (23%) females

3312 people, 1543 (47%) male, 1788 (53%) female
679 Households 511(75%) male, (25%) 171 female

Three things strike me:

1)The growth in the population of North Harris of 22%.
2)The decline in the proportion of men in the first decade.
3)The increase in the proportion of households headed by women is surely of significance.

It would take a far more detailed analysis to reveal precisely what was taking place over these two decades but clearly 'something' led to the changes that I have described.

South Harris Demographics

This is a somewhat crude (but careful!) look at the population of South Harris (as defined for census purposes) from 1881 onwards.

Please not that these are the results of a fairly rough interrogation of a database so the figures are meant for indicative purposes only.

1495 people, 748 (50%) male, 749 (50%) female
303 Households 228 (75%) male, 75 (25%) female

1563 people, 748 (48%) male, 822 (52%) female
305 Households 226 (74%( male, (26%) 81 female

1509 people, 691 (46%) male, (54%) 831 female
331 Households 234 (71%) male, 97 (29%) female

Three things strike me:

1)The relatively stable population of South Harris, averaging 1527 people.
2)The decline in the proportion of men - 0.2% per annum is remarkable
3)The increase in the proportion of households headed by women is surely of significance.

It would take a far more detailed analysis to reveal precisely what was taking place over these two decades but clearly 'something' led to the changes that I have described.

Of Welts and Wedlock

A six year-old boy appears in the 1901 census for Strond. The family is headed by an 80 year-old Crofter called John Maclean and his 70 year-old wife Catherine. The other two members of the household are their 33 year-old daughter, the Weaveress Anne Maclean and their 27 year-old Fisherman son, Angus. The boy, John Kerr, is John and Catherine's grandson.

His birth certificate shows that he was born on the 22nd May 1895, the illegitimate son of a Crofter, Donald Kerr, and the Weaveress, Ann McLean. There is nothing particularly unusual about this, until one digs a little further.

Donald, born in Strond on the 6th December 1858, was the son of John Kerr, a Merchant (Grocer), and Jessie Macleod, a Shoemaker's daughter from Greenock. He was illegitimate.

Ann(e) M(a)clean was born in 1868. Her mother, Catherine Maclean, was born Catherine Kerr. Catherine's parents were Angus Kerr, a Shoemaker of Strond and his wife Margaret. John Kerr, who fathered the illegitimate Donald, was their son.

So, little John was not only born out of wedlock, to a father who himself carried that same stigma, but he was also the son of a pair of 1st Cousins.

Now, as I have commented before, there was no law against 1st Cousin marriages and, whilst they still attract controversy regarding their impact upon health, overall it seems that they were probably far more common than might be assumed. Many of us, I suspect, would find one or more such liaisons in our past were we able to trace them. Neither John and Jessie, nor Donald and Ann ever married but the families appear to have remained 'friends'.

Donald's parents, the unmarried John Kerr and Jessie Macleod, had a daughter, Susan, on the 21st May 1861. She died in 1946, some 21 years after her brother John, the illegitimate son of an illegitimate son, who passed away in 1958. He died alone, and single...

Note: John the Merchant had an older brother, Donald, and he too followed the path from Shoemaker to Merchant in Strond. In the 1861 census there is a 4 year-old girl called Mary Kerr living with Donald and his mother, Margaret. This child was Margaret's ganddaughter and, as far as I can tell, the first of her son John's trio of children born out of wedlock.

Roderick's Story

Roderick Kerr was born in 1845 at Direcleit to Malcolm Kerr and his wife Bess Macdonald. Bess died, possibly as a consequence of his birth, and Malcolm moved to Lewis where, three years later, he married Mary Macdonald of Steinsh. Despite searching Croft Histories and censuses, I have been unable to learn anything about Bess or her family.

Roderick was left to be raised by his grandparents, John the Tailor and Margaret, with whom he stayed until at least 1861. If the phrase 'left to be raised' sounds a little harsh to modern ears, it must be remembered that t was the usual practice in such circumstances in those days. It was also used sometimes to 'hide' 'Illegitimacy', a fact that can confound the family historian! Roderick became a fisherman and, despite his Uncle Angus being a fisher in Direcleit, made his home in An-t-Ob, the Sound of Harris being where many family members lived.

On the 2nd of February 1869, Roderick married Mary Morrison at Scarista. One of the witnesses was his cousin Rory Kerr, the Post Runner of Strond. The couple were living in the 'Obe Shop' in 1871, or rather were one of the 18 households with that address! They were predominantly fishers, a boat builder and Paupers, but the nucleus was the home of Roderick Macdonald, his wife Sarah (Grant) and their young family. Roderick was the son of the landlord of the Inn at An-t-Ob and had married the much-younger Sarah a few years earlier in Forres, Moray. Roderick the Fisherman and Mary had no children and she died before her 40th birthday.

On the 22nd February 1881, Roderick the Fisherman and widower married Margaret (Peggy) Maclennan at Scarista. Where Mary had been nearly five years his senior, Peggy was some fifteen his junior!. She came with a 2 year-old son, John Macleod, although she was a Spinster at the time of the marriage. The 1881 census shows us the new family in Obbe whilst along the road at Kyles House were the Macdonald family employing 8 people on their farm.

In 1885, Margaret gave Roderick a son of his own, Donald, and in 1889 their daughter Christy was born. So, in 1891, the family of five were in Obbe but with Roderick now working as an Agricultural Labourer and his step-son is now known as John Kerr. Up the road, the Macdonald family are still at what is now called Farm House.

By 1901, Roderick and Peggy's family had grown with the arrival of Angus and Kate in 1892 and 1895. Still living in Obbe, Roderick was now a Farm Servant and Peggy's son John listed as a Sailor. Donald, meanwhile, has moved and we find him at the Macdonald's Farm House where the 16 year-old is 'Herd Cattle on Farm'. At the house are Roderick (Farmer and General Merchant) and Sarah, their married daughter Margaret A Macleod, a Domestic Servant, a visiting Tweed Weaveress and a Shop Assistant, as well as young Donald. I believe Roderick to have been employed by the Macdonald's too.

Sarah was the 'Mrs S Macdonald' who, as a member of the Scottish Home Industries Association, wrote the famous account of the origin of Harris Tweed and of the Stocking Industry. I think it important to point out that Sarah was only 26 at the time of her marriage in 1868 so, if her account is accurate and the industry was begun in 1844, she was born around the same time as Harris Tweed itself!

Peggy produced another son in 1902 and he was called John. Nine years later, Peggy's Sailor son John died at sea and Roderick himself, in An-t-Ob, in 1919. Peggy survived him by some 30 years and Angus lived until 1963. Donald and John died elsewhere and at times unknown to me. What became of the daughters, Christy and Kate, is also a mystery for they neither married, nor died, on Harris.

So that is the end of this tale of Roderick and his family, including another of those coincidences that links, albeit tenuously, one of my relatives to the tale of Harris Tweed...

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Account of the Manufacture of Kelp on the farm of Strond in Harris

...possessed in tack by Mrs Anne Campbell ; transmitted, with Specimens of Kelp made in 1821, by Alexander Macleod, her Factor.

1st, The quantity of kelp manufactured on the farm of Strond, this season, was 115 tons.

2d, All the kelp was made from cut-ware of two years growth.

3d, The plants used were Fucus nodosus, or ladyware ; Fucus vesiculosus, or bell-ware; and Fucus serratus, or black-ware.

He goes into detail about these three species and then describes the manufacturing process:

1 The ware is cut off the rocks with a common hook, similar to that used for shearing (reaping,) but stronger, and having a rougher edge.

2 Care is taken to land the ware on clean spreading ground; and if any sand or mud is found to stick to the ware, it is always washed before landing it.

3 The ware is spread out every dry day, and made into small cocks at night. When, in this way, it is found to be pretty dry, it is made into larger cocks, and left to heat in them for six or eight days; but if the ware is of that description which I have mentioned above, as growing in bays, into which there is a run of water, such ware is always left in large cocks from fifteen to twenty days.

4 The ware being thus secured, a dry day, with a good breeze of wind, is watched for, in order to burn it.

5 The kelp-kilns are constructed of middle sized stones, of hard texture, and built up carelessly ; the outsides of the kilns are covered with turf: the length of each kiln is from 15 to 18 feet; breadth 2½ feet, height 2 feet. They are made on the surface of the ground, and on the firmest sward they can find.

6 The process of burning is as follows: A small bundle of straw or heather is set on fire; the dryest part of the ware is placed over this, and gradually added, until the flames become general through the kiln; then the ware to be burnt is thrown in, little by little, till the whole is reduced to ashes. If, however, it happens, that the day is too calm, or that the ware is not sufficiently dry, so that the ashes cool, and cake into white crusts, the manufacturer stops burning any more, until he rakes all the ashes in the kiln; then commences burning again, and goes on in this way until he has the whole thoroughly burnt. Want of attention to this method leaves kelp of a white colour, and porous texture.

7 The last process is the raking or working of the ashes with an iron with a wooden handle, made for the purpose, until the whole is brought into a solid semi-vitrified state. Most manufacturers commence this process immediately after the last part of the ware is put on the kiln, and when a good deal of the ware is not sufficiently burnt, and of a black colour. The Strond manufacturers, however, do not commence raking the ashes for at least half an hour after the last of the ware is put on; so that the whole may be thoroughly burnt. Want of attention to this particular leaves kelp of an ugly black colour. The raking of the ashes is simply done, by working the kelp-irons through it, until the whole becomes a semi-vitrified mass: three or four men are employed at this process. If fewer, the ashes will not be sufficiently worked, and consequently a great part of them must be mixed in the next burning.

Finally, The kelp is broken into pieces of about 2 cwt.: these are made into conical heaps, covered with dry ware, and over that is placed a layer of turf, which secures the kelp tolerably well, if early shipped.

This is the fullest contemporary account that I have found of the processes involved in Kelp-making and I think Alexander Macleod, the Factor, has been extremely thorough. As the industry was in decline at this time, we can be sure that he was doing his very best to promote the excellent quality of the Kelp from the Farm of Strond in Harris!

The full account, including those from three other areas of Kelp Manufacturing, can be read here:
Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland 1824
p251-257 on Improving the Manufacture of Kelp

A modern company harvesting sea-ware - http://www.hebrideanseaweed.co.uk/history.html

Builders of Stornoway

These are the Builders as listed in all the censuses from 1841-1901. It should be pointed-out that there were vastly more men who were Masons throughout this time so the appearance of 'Builder' as a separate classification from the middle of the Century is clearly of significance:

John Macrae, 32, Mason, Melbost, b. Ross & Cromarty
(Wife Ann & 3 children plus Alexander Macrae, 60, Small Tenant and possibly John's father?)

Norman Macleod, 60, House Builder or Mason, Head, Head, Gairbost, b. Harris
John Urquhart, 73, Church Street, b. Urray, Ross-shire
James Christie, 39, Builder, Head, Francis Street, b. Rothes, Moray
Alexander Gair, 50, Builder, Visitor, Point Street, b. Kiltearn, Ross-shire
(John Maciver, 52, Dyke Builder, Head, Melbost, b. Stornoway)

John Macdonald, 30, Mason Builder, Son, Garynahine Road, b. Stornoway
John Macrae, 50, Mason Builder, Head, Melbost Road, b. Stornoway

Alexander Mackenzie, 69, Builder and Joiner, Head, 12 Francis Street, b. Stornoway
John Munro, 34, Mason (Builder), Head, Laxdale Lane, b. Harris

George Mackenzie, 79, Builder, Head, 33, Keith Street, b. Stornoway
Alex Mackenzie, 78, Builder and Achitect, Head, 29½ , b. Stornoway
Alexander Morrison, 32, Builder, Head, Lewis Street, b. Stornoway
Francis E Sheets, 30, Builder (Foreman), Head, b. England
(Donald Stewart, 65, Dyke Builder, Head, 18 Vatisker, b. Stornoway

James Macrae, 48, Builder, Head, 36 Lewis Street, b. Stornoway
William J Mackenzie, 36, Builder, Head, James Street, b. Stornoway

(Norman Forbes, 35, Carpeneter and Builder, Lodger, Thule House, Barvas, b. Stornoway)

Norman Forbes, 45, Builder and Contractor, Head, Balone House, b. Stornoway
(Norman's home can be read about and seen here: Balone
Angus Macdonald, 51, Builder, Head, 14 Scotland Street (Court), b. Uig, Ross-shire

I have  included the two Dyke Builders simply because, having chanced upon them, I felt that they should be recorded somewhere!

A very interesting resource for the Listed Buildings in Stornoway: http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/scotland/western+isles/stornoway

Head Lodge Dwellers of Lewis

A slightly different approach in which I am looking at those who were the Head of Household in a 'Lodge', regardless of the function of each Lodge at the time:

Alexander Macrae, 55, Gardener Lewis Castle, Gardener's Lodge, Stornoway Distillery, b. Fodderty

John Macpherson, 69, Nurseryman, Porter's Lodge, Stornoway, b. Crathinard, Aberdeenshire
Angus Macleod, 39, Game Keeper, Morsgail Lodge, Uig, b. Harris
James Macrae, 33, Inspector of Poor and Registrar, Meary(?) Lodge, Uig, b. Harris

Margaret Mackenzie, 36, Keeper of Mason Hall, 25 Kenneth St (Masonic Lodge), b. Stornoway
John Maclean, 50, Contractor of Works, Porter's Lodge, b. Inverness-shire
Donald Morrison, 41, Mason, Creed Porter's Lodge, b. Stornoway
John Christie, 52, Pensioner from the Army, Castle Stables Lodge b. Blair Atholl
John Munro, 37, Game Keeper, Marybank Lodge, b. Contin
James Young, 35, Salmon Fisher, Sandr Road Sandwick Lodge, b. Creich, Sutherlandshire
Alexander Macrae, 44, Shepherd, Gress Lodge, b. Inverness-shire
John Hymers, 45, Manager of Sheep Farm, Head, Eishken Lodge, Lochs, b. Inverness-shire
Angus Macleod, 48, Game Keeper, Sorval Cottage or Lodge, b. Uig, Ross-shire
Angus Macleod, 49, Gamekeeper, Morsgail Lodge, b. Tarbert, Inverness-shire

Alexander Campbell, 60, Porter Lodge Keeper, Creed Porter's Lodge, b. Stornoway
John Maclean, 55, Agricultural Labourer, Porter's Lodge, b. Duirinish, Inverness-shire
Christina Macdonald, 24, housekeeper, Lodge, Uig, b. Stornoway

John Christie, 73, Army Pensioner Boatman, Castle Policies Boatman's Porter Lodge, b. Blair, Perth
John Maclean, 64, Gate Keeper, Porter's Lodge, b. Duirinish, Inverness-shire
John Morrison, 42, Gamekeeper, Gress Shooting Lodge, b. Alness, Assynt, Ross-shire
Malcolm Smith, 60, River Watcher, Creed Porter's Lodge, b. Uig, Ross-shire
Ann Munro, 52, House Keeper, Sporting Lodge, b. Contin, Ross-shire
Mary Maclean, 18, Housekeeper, Shooting Lodge, b. Ross-shire
Ann Maciver, 50, House Keeper, Lodge, b. Uig
Mary Mackenzie, 16, House Maid, Shooting Lodge, b. Bernera, Ross-shire

Donald Cameron, 35, Game Keeper, Gress Lodge Game Keeper's House, b. Rannoch, Perthshire
Catherine Maclean, 60, Lodge Gate Keeper, Porter's Lodge, b. Dunvegan, Inverness-shire
Ann Smith, 38, Gate Keeper, Creed Porter's Lodge, b. Stornoway
Mary Chisholm, 30, House Keeper, Eishken Lodge, Lochs, b. Dores, Invernerness-shire
Christina Ross, 60, Farmer's Widow, Gamekeeper's House Sorval Lodge, b. Ross-shire
Charles G Gillespie, 64, Living On Own Means, Scaliscas Lodge, b. Inverness-shire
Ann Maciver, 58, Housekeeper In Charge, Uig Shooting Lodge, b. Uig
Roderick Mackenzie, 53, Gamekeeper, Uig Gameleeper's Lodge (Erista), b. Lochbroom
Dolina Macleod, 46, House Keeper, Grimersta Shooting Lodge, b. Uig, Ross-shire

Several of these people appear elsewhere under entries concerning their individual occupations but I thought it perhaps useful and interesting to have a list in one place as a summary of the Lodges of Lewis.

Note: There are a few spellings that are awry - if anyone would like to supply corrections, Please do so!

Factors ON Lewis

These are the four records of Factors resident on Lewis at the time of each census:

Thomas Knox, 40, Factor of Lewis, Seaforth Lodge, b. Scotland 2 male and 2 female Servants
(Alexander Macrae, 49, Gardener, b. Ross and Cromarty, and 8 others are also at Seaforth Lodge)

1851 and 1861 – None Listed

Norman Maciver, 30, Factor, Lodger, Private House, Uig, b. Uig

William Mackay, 54, Factor and Snr. Magistrate, Boarder, b. Nairn

1891 – None Listed

Charles Orrick, Factor on Landed Estates, 16 South Beach Street, b. Cockpen, Edinburgh
(Wife and 4 children, ages 9months to 8, all born in Stornoway)

Although an apparently somewhat barren list, it does give us our one census record for the inhabitants of Seaforth Lodge, just three years before Sir James Matheson bought Lewis.

End of the male line on Harris

Once I had completed researching my own lineage on Harris and Lewis, I thought that it would be interesting, and fairly easy!, to chart all of the Kerr families on Harris. I couldn't have been more wrong. It has taken a considerable effort to amass the information.

The excellent thing about Scottish records is that they contain more information than their English counterparts and it only costs pennies over £1 to access an image. Compare that with the £9.25 for a (less-informative) Birth, Marriage or Death Certificate from England! Nevertheless, I have not accessed every single such record for Harris but sufficient for me to be able to present the following with a pretty high degree of confidence.

Oh, and my one complaint where the English records are superior to the Scottish, is that the indexing of those in Scotland is comparatively poor and one is charged to view each set of results, whether or not a likely 'hit' happens to be found within them.

These, the, are the 10 original 'Hearth-holds' (as I have elected to describe them!) from 1841.
I have only included the male descendants as their histories show how the name expired from the island:

A) Chersty (1761-bef1851) Tarrinsay, Hand Loom Weaver

B)Rock (1800-?) Strond, Tenant, Emigrated? bef1851

C) Rodrick (1800-?) Rha (Taransay), Ind, Emigrated? bef 1861

D) Peter (1796-) Glendsiluvaig, Tenant, 1851 – Kentulavick, Dry Mason, Moved to Argyllshire

E) Angus, Strond, Shoemaker (1791-bef1851) and Margaret (1790-1864)

e1) Donald (1816-1887)
Strond, Shoemaker, 1851 Farm of Strond, Shoemaker, 1881 Strond Merchant

e2)John (1826-1886)
1851 Farm of Strond, Port Esgein, Shoemaker, 1861 Tarbert, Grocer, 1871/81 Strond, Merchant

e2e) Donald (1858-1925) (John's Son)
1901 Berneray, Road Labourer 1925 Strond, Crofter, Single

e2e1) John (1895-1958) (Donald's 'Illegitimate' Son)
1958 Crofter, Single

F)John (1796-bef1861) Obb, Tenant, 1851 Obb, Farmer

f) Malcolm (1814-1894) Obb, Ag Lab
1861 Obe, Crofter, 1871 Smithy, Crofter 1891 Obbe, Crofter)

G) Marrion, Scarrista, Weaveress (1786-bef1871)

g1) John (1811-1879) Scarista, Carpenter
1851 Laskintyre, Joiner By 1871 he and his family had moved to Birkenhead, England

g2) Rodk 1816-1877 Scarrista, Carpenter
1851, Bowes, Farm Labourer & Joiner

g2g) John Kerr (1855-?) (Roderick's Son) 'Ayatollah Kerr'

H) Alexr (1796-bef1851) Tarbert, Fisher

h1)Malcolm (1816-1894) Tarbert, Fisher
1861 E Tarbert, Lobster Fisherman 1871 Boat Carpenter

h2)Donald (1821-bef1871)
1861 E Tarbert, Lobster Fisherman

I) Angus (1801-1867) Obb, Tenant
1851 Farm of Strond, Port Esgein, Ag Lab

i1) Angus (1826 -1910)
His career at Rodel I have described in detail elsewhere

i2) Malcolm (1831-1905)
Strond, Shepherd 1871 Strond, Cottar 1881 Strond Shepherd

i3) Roderick (1831-1891)
Post Runner, Single

i4) Wiiliam (1836-1862)

J) John(1801-1867 Dirachte, Tenant
1851 Direcleit, Tailor)

j1) Malcolm (1821-1898) Ag Lab
Moved to Stornoway by 1848 to pursue his seafaring career, remarry and produce my Lewis cousins

j2) Angus (1835-bef1881) One of Angus' daughters leads to my only known cousin in Harris.
1861 Direcleit, Fisherman

j3) John 1839-1917(?)

j4) Donald (1843-?) 1891 Auctioneer's Labourer, Glasgow

j5) Niel (1846-bef1871?)

j2j) John (Angus' son) 1868-1950 1891 Direcleit., Fisherman

j2j1) John Kerr (prob911-1985, NOT born on Harris) (John's Son) witness on his father's Death Cert.

j1j) Roderick (Malcom's Son) 1901 Obbe Farm Servant

j1j1) Donald (1885-?) (Roderick's Son)
1901 Farm House, Herd Cattle on Farm

j1j2) Angus (1892-1963)

j1j3) John (Macleod) Kerr (1879-?) (Roderick's Step-son)
1901 Obbe, Sailor/Tailor

j1j4) John Kerr (1902-? Died elsewhere)

This John, son of Roderick, son of Malcolm, son of John, son of Malcolm, was the last male Kerr to be born on Harris. He died elsewhere.

My grandfather was John, son of Annie, daughter of Malcolm, son of John, son of Malcolm.

One odd fact that I have noted is that those who 'emigrated', whether to Lewis, Argyll or England, produced significantly more male heirs, both during their time on Harris and after.

There must be many in Argyll and England with Harris roots, but whether they are aware of them or not I have absolutely no idea!

Similarly, the daughters of some of the men who remained on Harris had families so, hidden within Harris amongst the more-familiar island names, are people descended from my original 'Hearth-holds' ...

Note: I hope that the combination of letters and numbers used to identify each generation is reasonably easy to follow. I opted for it for reasons of brevity.

The Tarasaigh (Dis)Connection

Taransay, lying just a mile off the West coast of Harris, must have been a beautiful place to live for the 140 people who called it home in the late 18thC. It had acres of fertile land, beautiful Atlantic beaches and safe anchorage for boats. The three townships of Uidh, Paibeil and Raah must have been some of the happiest in Harris.

Raah, which had been Crofted in 1826, was Cleared in 1840 for the Tacksman, John Macdonald.
The 1841 census shows the 60 year-old Farmer living on 'Tarrinsay' with his wife, six children, a Tutor and several servants. In all there were 72 people recorded there including an 80 year-old Hand Loom Weaver, Chirsty Kerr.

In 'Rha' there remained just sixteen people, including the family of 41 year-old Roderick Kerr who is classed as 'Independent. His wife, Margaret, was 30 and their daughters Ann and Mary were 12 and 3 respectively. Chirsty, the weaver, might well have been his mother.

The other three households in Raah were those of Kenneth Campbell, a 60 year-old Farmer with his wife and five children; Mary Macleod, a 41 year-old Hand-Loom-Weaver with three children, and sixty-one year old Marion Morrison who was a fellow weaver. They had been allowed to stay after their neighbours were forced from their homes, presumably because they were still of utility to the tacksman.

A decade later, the population of Taransay was reduced from these 88 people to a mere 55, a decrease of nearly 40%. Over on Harris itself, Borve (which overlooks Taransay) had been Cleared in 1839 and was subject to an experiment in re-settlement in 1847. At least one on the families from Taransay moved there.

So it was that the 1851 census for Borve records Roderick Kerr, 48, Labourer, Margaret, 47, Mary, 16, Flora 14, Donald, 9, Cathi, 4 and Janet, 1. Despite the apparent discrepancies in ages and names, my researches indicate that this is the family from Raah.

Back on Taransay, 'John Macdonald, 70, Farmer of 150 acres employing 7 labourers' is one of the 55 people in 11 different households that remain.

In 1852 the Highlands & Islands Emigration Society was formed and 742 people left Harris for Australia. The next year saw the plug-pulled on the experiment in Borve and it was Cleared for a second time.

Significantly, there is no further record of Roderick, Margaret and their family and it is to be assumed that they emigrated, but may not have survived the journey...

(Note: It is possible that one, or both, of the elder daughters married, but if so it was before 1855 for there is no record of such a marriage.)

Friday, 28 May 2010

The Inn at An-t-Ob

I can only find two records for this establishment. The Inn can be seen on the 1st Edition Six-Inch Map of 1886, which is interesting given that the latest record in the censuses is from 25 years earlier. The location on that map can easily be identified on the current 1:25000 series – it is under the 15m Spot-Height just below 'Kintulavig' at NG012873. (Please see below*)

Malcolm Macdonald, 66, Merchant and Innkeeper, b. Harris
Margaret Macdonald, 57, Wife, b. Glasgow
Roderick Macdonald, 25, Son, b. Harris
Duncan(?) Macdonald, 18, Daughter, b. Harris

Isabella Campbell, 7, Granddaughter, b. Portree

Alexander Macdonald, 25, Servant, b. Harris
Johanna Ferguson, 16, Servant, b. Harris
Johanna Campbell, 18, Servant, b. Harris
Mary Maclennon, 20, Servant, b. Harris

John McRaitt, 20, Visitor, b. Burrwith, Inverness-shire

Malcolm Macdonald, 70, Inn Keeper, b. Harris
Margaret Macdonald, 68, Wife, b. Glasgow
Margaret Macdonald, 38, Policeman's Wife, Daughter, b. Harris
Roderick Macdonald, 35, Merchant, Son, b. Harris

Isobel Campbell, 17, Domestic Servant, G Daughter, b. Harris
Duncan Campbell, 10, Scholar, Grandson, b. Portree
Margaret Campbell, 8, Scholar, Grandson, b. Portree

John Shaw, 21, Ag Lab, Servant, b. Harris
Kenneth Martin, 23, Ag Lab, Servant, b. Harris
Christina Munro, 25, General Servant, b. Harris

I have found a Margaret Campbell in Portree in 1851, with a 1 year-old son called Duncan, who's husband Peter is an Inspector of Police. This appears to be a reasonable match with the Macdonald's daughter and her three children.

The Inn's location would have meant that anyone alighting from the Sound of Harris ferry at Kyles Lodge (which was the home of Sheep Farmer Alexander MacRae from 1820-1874) would have joined the 'road' by the Inn. That explains why it was built in what today appears to be rather an unlikely spot for a hostelry.
*The Sound of Harris Chart produced by Captain Otter in 1859 places the Inn much further into An-t-Ob at the foot of the road to Rodel. I think that this was the location of the Macdonald's Inn and that the much later OS Map is displaying an altogether different establishment.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Engineers and Architects on Lewis and Harris

A small list, even with the inclusion of five wives of engineers whose husbands were elsewhere, but I thought these Civil, Marine and Mechanical Engineers, and Architects, worth recording:

John Saban, 50, Architect, Cromwell Street, b. Scotland

Donald Macdonald, 35, Architect, Visitor, Rodel, b. Kilmuir, Inverness

(Margaret Brotherton, 25, Civil Engineer's Wife, Daughter, Point Street, b. Stornoway)

William Ross, 35, Architect, Visitor, 18 Francis Street, b. Ross-shire

James Rendall, 25, Marine Engineer, Lodger, South Beach Street, b. Kirkwall, Orkney

Alexander Mackenzie, 78, Architect, Visitor, Timsgarry House, b. Stornoway

Alexander Macdonald, 26, Civil Engineer and Architect, Boarder, 23 Scotland Street, b Dores, Inverness

William E Maclean, 21, Marine Engineer, Son, 37 Keith Street, b. Stornoway

George Mackenzie, 55, Architect, Brother, 49 Keith Street, b. Stornoway

(Catherine Robertson, 30, Engineer's Wife, Daughter, Manse, b. Tarbert, Inverness)
(Jane Watt, 38, Engineer's Wife Nursery, Housemaid, North 12 Street, b. Stornoway)

Alexander Macdonald, 34, Civil Engineer, Head, 12 Keith Street, b. Dores, Inverness

Alexander Houston, 26, Mechanical Engineer, Boarder, 1 Mackenzie Street, b. England

George Macdonald, 32, Marine Engineer Seafaring, Son, 52 Lewis Street, b. Stornoway

William J Macleod, 20, Marine Engineer (Apprentice), Son, 5 quay Street, b. Stornoway

Alexander Mackenzie, 64, Architect, Head, 45, Keith Street, b. Stornoway

(Hannah Macmillan, 26, Engineer's Wife, 14 Plantation Street, b. Co. Armagh, Ireland)
(Annie M M Stephen, 35, Engineer's Wife, 18 James Street, b. Stornoway)

Nursery Cottage, Stornoway

I mentioned before that I find the history of individual buildings and the people who called them 'Home' particularly interesting and, having happened upon Nursery Cottage in my look at Customs Officers, I thought I'd explore further:

Alexander Macrae, 74, Gardener and Forester, b. Fodderty
Mary Macrae, 66, Wife, b. Lerwick, Shetland
John Macrae, 27, Out Door Office Of Customs, Son, b. Stornoway
Caroline L Macrae, 25, Housekeeper, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Andrew L Maclean, 5, Grandson, b. Stornoway

Alexander Macrae, 86, Head Nurseryman, b. Fodderty
John Macrae, 37, Officer House Customs, Son, b. Stornoway
Caroline Lewis Macrae, 35, Housekeeper, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Mary Jane Maclean, 28, General Servant, Grand-daughter, b. Stornoway
John Maclean, 21, Joiner, Grandson, b. Stornoway
Andrew Lothian Maclean, 15, Scholar, Grandson, b. Stornoway

James Cambridge, 51, Pensioner RN Machine Knitter, b. Ireland
Christy Ann Cambridge, 49, Wife, b. Stornoway
Mary Agnes Cambridge, 23, Milliner, Daughter, b. Buckie, Banffshire
Marion Macdonald, 23, General Servant Domestic, b. Uig, Ross-shire

Roderick Macrae, 35, Forester, b. Dingwall
Maggie Macrae, 27, Wife, b. Uig, Ross-shire
Catherine Macrae, 6, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Duncan Niel Macrae, 4, Son, b.Stornoway
Alexina Macrae, 1, Daughter

I do not know the precise location of Nursery Cottage, nor whether it still remains albeit with another name, but it appears to have been somewhere within the grounds of Lews Castle.
Alexander Macrae can be found back in 1861 at Gardener's House No 1, but whether that became 'Nursery Cottage' or not I cannot say.

One, at least, of the Macrae's daughters gave them three grandchildren with the name Maclean but tracing their story is beyond the scope of this particular piece.

Following them, in 1891, we meet the Cambridge family headed by the retired Royal Navy gentleman James. If 'Machine Knitter' is correct, and the presence of nearly 100 such people in Scotland in 1891 makes it seem likely, then he is unique in the censuses of Lewis and Harris in recording that particular occupation. I do wonder whether he had been disabled in the course of duty and this was a way for him to supplement his pension and remain active alongside his hat-making daughter?

The final family, that of Forester Roderick Macrae, sees a return to that role just as it had been right at the start when an earlier mainland-born Macrae had been the first householder at Nursery Cottage.

Plumbers of Stornoway

I have separated those born on Lewis from those born elsewhere and emphasised those appearing more than once:

James Macdonald, 38, Plumber and Gas Fitter(Master) , Enaclete, b. Perth
We met James, and John (below) when exploring the Stornoway Gas Light Company

John Wilson, 18, Plumber and Tinsmith, Gas House, b. Fifeshire

Angus Clark, 30, Plumber, 31 Keith Street, b. Stornoway

Angus Clark, 36, Plumber, 31 Keith Street, b. Stornoway

Angus Clark, 50, Plumber, 43 Keith Street, b. Stornoway
James Clark, 17, Apprentice Plumber, Son, b. Stornoway
Murdo Maclennan, 21, Plumber, 22 Point Street, b. Stornoway

Andrew Law, 38, Plumber, 18 Bells Road, b. Forres, Morayshire
Robert Beaton, 36, Plumber, 16 Garden Road, b. Dingwall

Angus Clark, 59, Plumber and Gas Fitter, 43 Keith Street, b. Stornoway
James Clark, 27, Plumber and Gasfitter, Son, b. Stornoway
Murdo Maclennan, 28, Plumber and Gasfitter, No 7 Garden Road, b. Stornoway
Malcolm Macdonald, 24, Plumber, 4 Newton Street, b. Stornoway
John Macinnes, 24, Plumber, 13 Church Street, b. Stornoway
Angus Mackenzie, 14, Apprentice Plumber, 24 Bayhead Street, b. Stornoway
Aleck Maciver, 27, Plumber, 73 Keith Street, b. Lochs
Angus Maciver, 24, Apprentice Plumber, 34 Church Street Court, b. Lochs

Alexander Bain, 45, Plumber, 32 Keith Street, b. Gairloch
Robert Beaton, 45, Plumber, Caberfeidh house, b. Dingwall

It is not surprising that the early records relate to the Stornoway Gas Light Company but what is interesting is the doubling of the number of Plumbers in the final decade of the 19thC. Equally impressive is the fact that this increase took place from people born locally. The young men of Lewis were quick to spot the demand for this new skill and I think it reasonable to suggest that the 'elder statesman' of plumbing, Angus Clark, must have been mentor to many?

Obviously the growth of the town and the supply of water for domestic purposes were major factors at this time, but I have been unable to discover anything about the history of the Water Company in Stornoway so that remains to be explored...

Prisons of Stornoway and North Uist

Here are those either running, or guests of, these two prison:

Hugh Brown, 60, Keeper of Prison, Church Street, b. Kilmorack, Inverness
Mary Brown, 34, Matron of Prison, Church Street, b. Stornoway

David Robertson, 33, Keeper Of Prison, Plumber (Journeyman), b. Aunton(?), South Uist
Margaret Cameron, 23, Prisoner, General Servant, b. Paible, North Uist
Angus Campbell, 35, Prisoner, Small Servant, b. Harris
Roderick Macneil, 25, Prisoner, Farmer, b. South Uist
Alexander Macphee, 24, Prisoner, Blacksmith's Apprentice, b. Benbecula, South Uist
Roderick MacCochan, 20, Prisoner, Farm Labourer, b. South Uist
Alexander MacCochan, 18, Prisoner, Farm Labourer, b. South Uist

Hugh Brown, 70, Keeper Of The Prison, Prison, b. Kilmorack, Inverness
Malcolm Mackenzie, 14, Prisoner, b. Stornoway
Ann Morrison, 73, Prisoner, Pauper, b. Stornoway

Duncan Matheson, 36, Keeper, Prison, North Uist, b. Inverness-shire
Donna Matheson, 28, Matron Prison, b. Stornoway

Hugh Brown, 80, Supr, Prison Governor, 5 Invers(?) Ligach(?), b. Kilmorack, Inverness
Flora Macdonald, 30, Prison Matron, Lewis Street The Prison, b. Dingwall

George Mackay, 30, Keeper Of Prison, The Prison, North Uist, b. Inverness
Betsy Mackay, 29, Matron, b. Inverness
William Mackillop, 64, Prisoner, b. Bernera, Inverness-shire
Donald Martin, 36, Prisoner, Labourer, b. South Uist

George Macleod, 38, Prison Governor, Stornoway Prison, b. Lochbroom, Ross-shire

George Mackay, 40, Prison Governor, Prison, North Uist, b. Inverness
Malcolm Macdonald, 48, Prison Warder (Assistant), b. Newton, Inverness-sshire
Donald Cunnigham, 41, Civ. Prisoner, Fisherman, b. Harris

George Macleod, 48, Prison Governor, HM Prison Lewis Street, b. Lochbroom
Alexander Drummond, 24, Prisoner, Tinker, b. Gairloch
Jessie Macleod, 30, Prisoner, Labourer(General), b. Lochs

George Mackay, 50, Prison Governor, HM Prison, North Uist, b. Inverness
Elizabeth Mackay, 49, Prison Matron, b. Inverness
Archibald Macdonald, 38, Prison Warder, b. North Uist

George Macleod, 58, Prison Governor, HM Prison, b. Lochbroom
Lizzie Macleod, 51, Prison Matron, b. Stornoway

Ann Henderson, 56, Police Inspector's Wife, County Buildings, b. Fort William
Alex Davidson Macsween ,27, Prisoner, Commission Agent, County Buildings, North Uist, b. Harris

The thing that strikes me is how quiet these prisons generally were at census time, with the notable exception of North Uist in 1851.Then six inmates represent four different islands and I note that their 'Keeper' combined that role with being a Journeyman Plumber. The 1901 entry for North Uist follows the closing of the prison in 1891 hence a prisoner being held at the County Buildings.

A description of the Old Courthouse, Lochmaddy, North Uist can be read here: Old Courthouse

HM Customs (plus Excise) Personnel of Stornoway

Here we have those charged with the duty of ensuring that all the appropriate revenue was collected at the Port of Stornoway:

Malcolm Magilvray, 55, Comptroller Of Customs, South Beach Street, b. Scotland
Alexander Mckay, 45, Collector Of Customs, Francis Street, b. England

William Lee, 40, Supervisor Of Excise, Francis Street, b. England
Charles Macgregor, 45, Excise Officer, Francis Street, b. Scotland
George Duncan, 30, Excise Officer, Barvas Street, b. Scotland
Donald Sutherland, 45, Officer of Excise, South Beach Street, b. Scotland

Michael B Pithie, 39, Comptroller Of Customs, Francis Street, b. Kirkaldy, Fifeshire
William Thomas Jeffreys, 56, Collector Of Customs, Kenneth Street, b. England

(There are also 12 'Board of Customs Pensioners' listed, not a group I know anything about)

James Bishop, 30, Comptroller Of Customs, 14 Kenneth Street, b. England
M B Pithie, 49, Collector of Customs, 6 Kenneth Street, b. Kirkaldy, Fifeshire
James Beaton, 36, Customs Boat Man, Imarsligoch Street, b. Stornoway
(Mary Clark, 59, Customs Boatman's Wife, Imarsligoch Street, b. Stornoway)

Alex M Maciver, 33, Officer Of Customs, Son, 2 Kenneth Street, b. Stornoway
John Macrae, 27, Out Door Office Of Customs, Nursery Cottage, b. Stonoway
(Mary Clark, 63, Customs Officer's Wife, 12 Invers(?) Beach, b. Stornoway)

James Somerville, 44, Supervisor of Inland Revenue (Excise), 18 Kenneth Street, b. Haddington, N Berwick

Alexander Maciver, 43, Examining Officer HM Customs, 2 Kenneth Street, b. Stornoway
John Macrae, 37, Officer House Customs, Nursery Cottage, b. Stornoway
James Ritchie, 54, Collector HM Customs, Esplanade House, b. Elgin, Morayshire
Margaret Ritchie, 53, Collector HM Customs, Esplanade House, b. Glasgow

(Daniel Metcher, 64, Excise Pensioner, Lewis Street, b. England)

William M Callander, 56, Superintendent Customs, Esplanade Road, b. Falkirk
Alexander M Maciver, 53, Officer Of HM Customs, 3 Kenneth Street, b. Stonoway
Arthur Curtin, 33, Customs Officer, Garden Road, b. Ireland
John Ross, 28, Customs Officer, Garden Road, b. Portree

William G E H Evans, 36, Clerk In Charge Of HM Customs, Esplanade House, b. England
Alexander Macdonald, 40, Preventive Officer HM Customs, Park View House(Scotland St), b. N Uist
Walter C Burton, 19, Assistant Collector Of Customs, 5 North Beach Street, b. Glasgow

I was quite surprised at how few they were in number, even at the height of the Herring Industry?

An interesting insight into smuggling from 1700-1855 is to be found here: Smuggling – not that I'm suggesting for a moment that those 'in the coasting trade off the West Coast of Scotland' took part in such activities!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

The Mathesons in 1871 and 1891

I have already recorded Sir James and Dame Mary Jane at Lews Castle in 1861 and her presence there again in 1881. However, in 1871 they were at their London home and she is found there again in 1891.

That home was 13 Cleveland Row and British History Online gives a thorough description: Cleveland Row

The building called 'Stornoway House', which can be clearly seen on the plans in the document, was the Matheson residence from 1844 until 1896.

It has a large bay-window that looks the few hundred feet across the corner of Green Park to a rather well-known residence - Buckingham Palace...

The Lloyd's Signal Stations Act 1888

This Act conferred on Lloyd's the power to establish signal stations with telegraph communications.
In the Highlands and Islands we find the following from the census records:

Edward Robinson, 26, Lloyd's Signalman, Lloyd's Signal Station, Barvas, b. England
Caroline Robinson, 20, Wife, b. England

George Simpson, 30, Signal Officer (Lloyd's), Dunnet Head signal Station, b Dunnet, Caithness
Barbara M Simpson, 23, Housekeeper, Sister, b. Dunnet, Caithness

William Thomas, 28, Lloyd's Signalman, Lloyd's Signal Station, Barvas, b. England
Margaret Thomas, 16, Wife, b. England

George Simpson, 40, Lloyd's Signal Officer, Dunnet Head, b. Dunnet
Jessie Simpson, 28, Wife, b. Canisbay, Caithnessshire

There is a description of the remains of the Dunnet Head station here: Dunnet Head whilst this (pdf) of an archeological landscape survey of Ness records the location of scattered remains from the butt of Lewis station: Butt of Lewis

Harry Hawker's failed attempt to fly the Atlantic in May 1919 ended when he and his navigator, Kenneth Mackenzie Grieve, were forced to ditch in the sea. They were picked-up by a radio-less ship, the Mary, so when they reached the Butt the Mary signalled the Lloyd's Signal Station:

Lloyd's signal station at Butt of Lewis telegraphs this morning as follows:
Danish steamer Mary passing eastwards signalled following:
'Saved hands Sopwith aeroplane.'
Station signalled: 'Is it Hawker?'
Steamer replied: 'Yes.'

Thus the Butt of Lewis was able to let the World know that the airmen were safe, six days after the ditching of the aircraft...

I have been sent this interesting link that includes images of the Dunnet Head Station: Naval Onshore Signals
and a brilliant blog from Caithness that I follow:Mary-Ann's Cottage

Salmon Folk of Lewis and Harris

I thought I'd take a look to see what specific mention of occupations connected with Salmon might appear in the censuses:

George Macleod, 35, Salmon Fisher, Grimersta, b. Uig

Murdo Mackay, 35, Salmon T Boiler(?), Sandwick, b. Uig

George Macleod, 45, Ground Officer/Salmon Fisher, Sandwick Beach, b. Assynt, Sutherland

Angus Macdonald, 35, Salmon Fisherman, Dun Carloway, b. Uig

George Macleod, 52, Salmon Fisher, Sandwick Beach, b. Assynt, Sutherland
John Macleod, 25, Salmon Fisher Clerk, Sandwick Beach, b. Uig

John Macleod, 40, Watcher of Game and Salmon, Arnish Point(?), b. Uig

James Young, 35, Salmon Fisher, Sandwick Road, Sandwick Lodge, b. Creich, Sutherland

(Neil Macneil, Salmon Fisher, Salmon House, Drainie, Moray, b. Lochs)

James Young, 44, Salmon Fisher, Sandwick Cottage, b. Creich, Sutherland

1891 – None Listed

James Young, 65, Salmon Fisher, Sandwick Cottage, b. Creich, Sutherland

(John Kerr, 32, Salmon Fisher, The Chanonry Point (Salmon fishing Station)(2), b. Tarbert, Harris)

Whilst some of these records clearly relate to protecting the landowner's Salmon (and Game!) it is not clear if the all other Salmon Fishers were engaged in commercial activity or, perhaps, as guides?

I have included the two 'strays' in Moray mainly because they are from the Isles and engaged in salmon fishing, but also because John Kerr, who was born in Direcleit, is a relative.

Countess of Dunmore in 1871

I have had great difficulty in finding more records of the family but, when I recalled that the 7th Earl of Dunmore had married Lady Gertrude Coke (5 Jul 1847-28 Nov 1943) on 5 Apr 1866, I thought it just possible that she might make an appearance at Holkam Hall:

The Earl of Leicester, Head, Widower, Temporarily Absent
Lady Winifred Coke, 23, Daughter
Lady Mildred Coke, 17, Daughter
Countess of Dunmore, 23, Daughter, Visitor
Lady Evelyn Murray, 3, Granddaughter
Lady Muriel Murray, 1 Granddaughter

There were another thirty-one staff in the household, and that is before we include those in the Stables, the Gardener's House, the Vinery, the Garden Cottage and the two Lodges, who add another twenty-six to the total!

Back in Rodel, Farm Grieve Angus Kerr has married House Maid Lexy Morrison whilst John Robson Macdonald continues as Factor to the 7th Earl's South Harris Estate, the North Harris one having been sold some 4 years earlier. Stocking Knitting has taken-off in Strond and St Clement's Church is undergoing restoration

All this a world-away from Holkam Hall, although it, too, is sited on a beautiful part of Britain's coast: http://www.holkham.co.uk/
Coincidentally, Angus Kerr's '1st Cousin 3 times removed', my Dad, is buried within a couple of miles of Holkam Hall...

Catherine Murray at Dunmore Park in 1861

In 1861, some 15 years since the death of her husband, the 46 year-old Countess of Dunmore is recorded as plain Catherine Murray but states her occupation as 'Countess and Peeress'.
With her on the family estate of Dunmore Park, Airth, Stirlingshire are two of her three daughters. Constance W E Murray, 22 and Alexandria V Murray, 15 are each kept occupied as a 'Lady'.

The other members of the household, which totalled some twenty-five people, comprised:
a Governess,
a House-Keeper and her Assistant,
two Lady's Maids,
an Upper Laundry Maid,
a Cook (sadly neither from Harris nor, indeed, Scotland),
an Upper Housemaid,
a Stillroom Maid,
a Dairymaid
two Under Laundrymaids,
a Kitchen Maid
a Scullerymaid
two Under Housemaids,
a General Helper,
a Butler,
two Footman and
two Grooms.

This is the last time that I can find Catherine Murray, Countess of Dunmore, in the censuses but nobility are tricky to locate with all the possible permutations of name and title at their disposal!

Back at Rodel House, John Robson Macdonald was performing his functions as Factor, and Angus Kerr was busy ploughing...and keeping an eye on the young House Maid, Lexy Morrison...

Alexander Edward Murray, 6th Earl of Dunmore in 1841

1 Grafton Street, Mayfair, London
Earl of Dunmore, 34
Countess of Dunmore, 28
Lady C Murray, 4
Lady G Murray, 2
Viscount Fincastle, 1

There are 17 more people (11 women and 6 men) and their specific roles are not recorded but two of the women, like the Earl himself, were born in Scotland.

Alexander (1 June 1804 – 15 July 1845) was the son of George Murray, 5th Earl of Dunmore but the figure on the census is clearly '34'. The census was taken on the night of the 6th June 1841, just five days after the Earl's 37th birthday!

On 27 September 1836, he had married Lady Catherine Herbert (31 October 1814-12 February 1886), daughter of the 11th Earl of Pembroke.

Lady C Murray was Susan Catherine Mary Murray (1837-27 April 1915)
Lady G Murray was Constance Euphemia Woronzow Murray (1838-16 March 1922)
Viscount Fincastle was Charles Adolphus Murray, 7th Earl of Dunmore (24 March 1841–27 August 1907)

It is quite nice to have this one glimpse of the family together for, of course, Alexander died just four years later leaving the countess to act as 'Tutor' running the 4 year-old 6th Earl's affairs, including those on Harris...

Aberdeen Fish Managers of 1901

These eight men are those whose occupation included both the words 'Fish' and 'Manager':

Charles Catto, 52, Manager Fish Manure and Oil Works, Head, b. Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire
David L Crombie, 37, Manager Fish Manure Works, Head, 202 Victoria Road, b. Glasgow

John Watson, 29, Fishcurer Manager, Head, 97, Menzies Road, b. Dunbarton
Robert Manson, 25, Fishcurer (Manager), Head, 12 Menzies Road, b. Marnoch, Banffshire

John R Kendall, 27, Fish Merchants Manager, Head, 7 Bank Street, b. England

William Walker, 55, Manager Salmon Fishing, Head, 9 Fish Street, b. Porthleven, Kincardineshire
John Kerr, 26, Manager (Herring Fishing), Boarder, 12 Millburn Street, b. Stornoway, Ross-shire

James Murray, 40, Manager (Fisherman), Head, 40 Walker Road, b. St Monans, Fife

I was surprised to find so few men in managerial roles associated with the fishing. It is possible that other managers did not specify that they were involved in the fishing industry, but I consider that unlikely.

The first four records are self-explanatory and remind us of all the onshore processing involved. The remaining four are slightly less clear:

Was John R Kendall managing one particular merchant's interests or did he have authority over all the merchants? If the former, it is odd that we do not see more men doing the same?

William Walker appears to be managing Salmon Fishing but does this mean that he his role was to oversea the salmon fishery too? The same goes for John Kerr, my grandfather, but for Herring. John is easily spotted for his is the only 'G&E' entry in an otherwise blank column requesting whether people spoke Gaelic.

James Murray's role is equally perplexing and, without knowing exactly how the fishing industry was organised in Aberdeen at this time it is unclear what his management duties involved.

In John's case, my aunt's birth certificate of 1905 records him as a 'Fish Salesman' and (as it contains his florid signature crossing the boundary into the previous record!) I can assume that he gave that description in person. He repeated the description, and his ignoring of the narrow-ruled form, when he signed my father's birth certificate a year later. When my second aunt was born in 1908, he was a 'Superintendent of Fisheries (Congested Districts Board, Ireland)' , for which role he had to be a Cooper, and it was my grandmother who signed the certificate in his absence

 She kept within the lines...

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London 24 May 1858

In the Hebrides Captain Otter in H. M. S. Porcupine, with lier tender the Seagull, assisted by a good working staff, composed of Messrs. Dent, Stanton, Stanley, and Cramer, has examined the shores and islets of the Sound of Harris, comprising, with all their indentations, 155 miles of coast line, in addition to sounding over an area of 435 square miles.

It is remarkable to consider that, in surveying the Sound of Harris, they recorded a massive 155 miles of coast.

This is an important service rendered to hydrography, as with this chart and the accompanying sailing directions before him, the mariner may safely run for the passage between Harris and North Uist, which has hitherto been avoided by all who could possibly escape from it. The chart is in the engraver's hands, and will be issued to the public in the course of the summer. At the same time Lieut. Thomas and Mr. Clifton have surveyed the rocky estuary of East Loch Tarbert, in Harris, and completed a chart of that remarkable inlet of the sea.

Unfortunately a relative ran into a Force 8 storm in the sound some 32 years later and lost a ship there. Lieut. Thomas is, of course, the later Captain FWL Thomas, and husband of 'Mrs Captain Thomas'.

In alluding to these and other charts of the coasts of Scotland, I have real pleasure, as one acquainted with the value of detailed land surveys, in expressing my admiration of the maps on the six-inch scale, exhibiting all the physical features, which Captain Otter, Commander Wood, and their associates have laid down for three miles inland. Such terrestrial coast surveys may enable geologists to come to accurate conclusions respecting the general structure of Scotland before the geographical details can be worked out on Ordnance maps representing the interior of the country, and which will probably not be published for many years to come, even under the vigilant superintendence of Colonel James.

The fact that they surveyed three miles inland tells us both how thorough they were and also why their task took several years to complete. As the author suggests, it was to be many years to come before the OS produced the first complete maps of the Isle of Harris. I haven't found Captain James...yet.

You can view the 1857 chart online.

Note: A modern piece on hydrography that mentions this 'pioneering work' and has an interesting map of the Sound of Harris can be seen here and the original from which I took the extract is here.

The Little Minch Channel

These extracts are from The Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle for 1866 and give a clear and vivid impression of the seas between Skye and the Western Isles. I have left all spellings as they appeared in the original:

My experience in the navigation of the Minch has been collected in storm and calm, in snow and fog, amidst those difficulties and dangers with which it abounds...

...giving some idea of the weather in that remarkable channel the little Minch; to describe the sudden changes from a quiet calm to a tempestuous raging sea, that will prepare the navigator for what he is to expect there...

...it may be first stated that the Little Minch is the name of a channel or strait in contradistinction to the Great one to the northward of it.

...it will be seen that the Little Minch is a channel from thirteen to twenty-four miles wide, occupying a position between the Isle of Skye and the Hebrides or Western Isles of Scotland, on the West shores of Inverness and Rosshire.

The navigator who has passed through it knows well that it is exposed to the whole fury of the Atlantic Ocean, being entirely open to its southerly gales, and consequently is very seldom in an undisturbed or tranquil state. It is nevertheless the highway of vessels running between the ports of this country and those of Norway, Sweden, Lapland, Prussia, and Russia, carrying timber, tar, tallow, flax, &c. As might be supposed, in so important and extended a trade, vessels of heavy burden, and many smaller ones, frequent its waters in passing to the West coast of Scotland, England, or Ireland.

...the area of water surface which it contains is about 500 square miles: all of which has been minutely sounded, rocks, dangers, and fishing banks carefully searched for, and their places assigned them in the chart.

The greatest depth of water in it is 111 fathoms (666 feet), off Dunvegan Head ; and the least depth at a moderate distance (one mile) from the shores, 18 to 25 fathoms. It does not contain a single known hidden danger, except at its northern extreme, that will be mentioned in its turn.

The Little Minch contains three fishing banks, having depths from 23 to 35 fathoms, the ground composed of sand, shells, and sometimes rock, and perhaps some gravel.

The West side the Minch is very much sheltered from the sea and its westerly gales, by the isles of Harris and North and South Uist, which translated simply means western lands. An entrance from the western sea lies between the two former, named the Sound of Harris. A chart of this sound has been lately compiled by the captain and officers of the Porcupine and Seagull, that gives a good idea of this labyrinth of rocks and shoals, showing the laborious, hazardous, and even dangerous task it must have been to construct. The sound has a good channel, which, with moderate caution, may be used by vessels of any burthen, affording them shelter from the fierce and boisterous Atlantic, and a safe entrance into the comparatively tranquil waters of the Little Minch.

On the western side of the Minch the anchorages are numerous, and much frequented by vessels bound to the southward. Every loch affords a shelter, and the principal are, Lochs Tarbert, Greosavsgh, Stokenisk, and Rodel in the Isle of Harris. Lochs Maddy, Evort, Bahnacaplich, Uskevagh, and Loep, in North Uist; and in South Uist are Lochs Skiport, Ainneart, and Brisdale, with many smaller anchorages for coasters.

We will now ask the reader to turn his attention to the dangers of the navigation and the mode of avoiding them. To the mariner they already have appeared so formidable that he will naturally and anxiously wish to have them at a respectful distance.

The southern entrance to the Minch is quite free from dangers, and the yacht or even the deeply laden barque may fearlessly run into it. But at the north-eastern entrance there are some to be carefully avoided. These are, Sgeir i noe, Sgeir Graitich, Eugenie Rock, (on which a vessel of that name was lately wrecked,) Sgeir na mule, Ghiant South Rock, about 2 1/2 to 3 miles South-westerly of Shiant Isles; this is however, out of the limits of the Little Minch. These are what may be termed hidden dangers, but with the simple yet sufficient directions lately compiled by Captain Otter, of the Porcupine, they may be all easily avoided.

...gales are soon up, and the vessel that is caught in one had better run for snug quarters on their first appearance.

I do not know who the author of this document was, but perhaps those more-familiar with the style of Captain FWL Thomas can suggest whether or not  it might have been him?

Highland and Island Emigration Society

Very useful site cataloguing ships and souls who left Scotland for Australia:


Includes a history of the HIES, too.

Also: University of Aberdeen Scottish emigration Database: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/emigration/index.html

And: Hebridean Scots in Quebec:  http://hebridscots.com/contents.htm

Update: Searchable Database of HIES emigrants:

Charles Murray, 7th Earl of Dunmore in 1881

We find the Murray family at 109 Cromwell Road, Kensington, London. The household comprises:

Earl of Dunmore, 40,Peer of the Realm,  b. London, Middlesex
Countess of Dunmore, 33, b. Holkham, Norfolk
Lady Emily Murray, 13, b. Edinburgh
Lady Muriel Murray, 11, b. London, Middlesex
Lady Grace Murray, 8, b. Dunmore
Lady Alexandra Murray, 3, b. London, Middlesex

Frederica Chapman, 20, Governess, b. London, Middlesex
Annie Giles, 41, Lady's Maid, b. Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire
Esther Murrow, 25, Nurse, b. Wells, Somerset
Margaret Baptie, 18, Nurserymaid, b. Carberry, Musselburgh
Rebecca Turner, 20, Nurserymaid, b. Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire

Elizabeth James, 45, Housemaid, b. St Dennis, Cornwall
Edith Black, 22, Houemaid, b. Chilin, Kent
Marion Morrison, 24, Cook, b. Strond, Harris
Jane Laurence, 21, Kitchen Maid, b. Chelsea, Middlesex
Richard Fisher, 38, Butler, b. North Berwick
Lewis Kinder, 17, Page, b. London, Middlesex

I hadn't realised that this Earl had married a grand-daughter of Thomas Coke (pronounced 'cook'!) of Holkham, 1st Earl of Leicester, who was an agricultural reformer best known for his work with cattle, sheep and pigs. He is perhaps not quite as famous as the earlier 'Turnip' Townshend who's estate at Raynham is a few miles inland from Holkham and who introduced the four-field sytem of crop rotation to Britain.

However, what stands-out the most in this list, after one has noted that it takes eleven servants to support the six members of the family, is the presence of a lass from Strond in Harris. Marion Morrison, at the young age of twenty-four,  is in that powerful and well-respected role of Cook!

There are two Marion Morrison candidates but the most likely one  is the daughter of Donald Morrison, a Fisherman, and his wife Mary who in 1851, prior to Marion's birth, were one of the 44 families at Port Esgein.

Her story of how she came to become Cook to the family of the owner of her island home, and living in a house almost as tall as the hills behind the house she was born in, is one that would wonderful to be told.

Oh, and she is one of the very few people  that I have found in the all the censuses of England whose birthplace is given as 'Harris', let-alone, 'Strond'!

Sir Edward Henry Scott, 5th Baronet of Lytchett Minster (1842-1883)

Sir E Scott is perhaps best known from the school in Tarbert that bears his name. The Baronetcy of Lytchett Minster was created in 1821 for Sir Claude Scott. Lychett Minster is a small village a mile inland from the sea near Poole in Dorset on the South coast of England. The holders of the title were:

Scott Baronets, of Lytchett Minster (1821)
Sir Claude Scott, 1st Baronet (1742-1830)
Sir Samuel Scott, 2nd Baronet (1772-1849) Member of Parliament for Malmesbury 1802-1806, and Camelford1812-1818
Sir Claude Edward Scott, 3rd Baronet (1804-1874)
Sir Claude Edward Scott, 4th Baronet (1840-1880)
Sir Edward Henry Scott, 5th Baronet of Lytchett Minster (1842-1883)
Sir Samuel Edward Scott, 6th Baronet (1873-1943)
Sir Robert Claude Scott, 7th Baronet (1886-1961)

Although Lytchett Minster was home to the title, the home of the Scott family was Sundridge Park in Bromley, Kent and an informative account of the house and gardens is to be found here: Sandridge

Sir Edward Henry Scott married Emilie Packe in the Summer of 1865 in Mitford, Norfolk and their son, Sir Samuel Edward Scott married Sophie Beatrix Mary Cadogan, a daughter of the 5th Earl of Cadogan, in the Summer of 1896 in Chelsea.

And that's my brief introduction to the Baronets of Lytchett Minster, twice owners of the North Harris Estate...

Monday, 24 May 2010

The Countess and The Captain's Wife

There is, to put it mildly, a fair degree of disagreement regarding the role played by each of these women in the origins and development of Harris Tweed. The extant written sources are scanty, written at lease 30 years after some of the events they purport to describe, and subject to bias. I shall look at the facts first, and then see if we can unravel the tangled web of the origin of Harris Tweed.

In 1845, the Countess of Dunmore's husband dies and she acts as 'Tutor' for his 4 year-old heir. As such, she takes responsibility for the ownership of Harris. Simultaneously, HMS Porcupine, with Lieutenant Thomas aboard, starts surveying the waters of the Western Isles. A year later the series of fatal failures of the Potato crop, due to Blight, begins.

The Countess establishes an Embroidery School at An-t-Ob in 1849 and builds a house for the Gardener in 1850. However, the 1851 census records only one Gardener and he is in Liceasto. There is no record of an Embroidery Teacher, although Isabella Mackinnon is a School Mistress in 'Obe'.

That same census does record the 'Paisley sisters' living at Port Esgein, Farm of Strond, neighbours of the Master of the Harris Mailboat, John Robinson whilst, just over the hill at Rodel House is the Factor and JP, John Robson Macdonald. In Edinburgh, Mrs Captain Thomas and the Captain are lodging in Culross, Perthshire. 1851 also sees the last of the Potato Famines.

By 1854, the road from Tarbert to Stornoway is complete and three years later, in 1857, the Countess and The Captain's wife start the Stocking Industry. The next year sees an account of the Tides in the Sound of Harris published as a result of Captain FWL Thomas' survey and ''In 1858 Lady Dunmore was a mother to her people in Harris', according to the Duchess of Sutherland who wrote these words three decades later.

The census of 1861 shows an Embroidery Teacher, Mary Galbraith in An-t-Ob together with her Gardener husband. It also affirms the continued residence of the Thomas' in Leith.

Between 1863 and 1867 the Countess's son, the 7th Earl of Dunmore, embarks on a building spree starting with his hunting lodge at Ardvourlie on the North Harris Estate closely followed by the Tarbert Hotel and then Abhainnsuidhe Castle. All three of these being in North Harris. The overspending on the Castle, no doubt abetted by the cost of the previous two projects, leads him to sell the North Harris Estate to Sir Edward Scott for £155,000 in the same year as the Castle was completed. (Some sources say the buyer was Sir Samuel Scott, Sir Edward's father, but as far as I can ascertain Sir Edward's son Sir Samuel was the second owner of the estate)

In 1871 there appears an abundance of Stocking Knitters on Harris with 11 of the 17 being in the Strond/Borrisdale/Rodel strip whilst the Thomas' remain in Leith. A couple of years later the newly-restored St Clement's Church at Rodel is reopened.

Captain FWL Thomas died in Midlothian 1882 (the previous year the couple were still in Leith) and the Countess passes-away in 1886.

The Scottish Home Industries Association re-forms in 1889 and the era of co-ordinated marketing and protection of Harris Tweed begins. It should be borne in mind that it was six years earlier that the 'Napier Commission' gathered its evidence including the rival accounts of the which of our two 'protagonists' was the originator of the Industry.

The road linking Tarbert to Rodel through the Bays of Harris wasn't finished until 1897 so until then those weaving on the East Coast were still reliant upon the sea as their only highway. Three years later, Sir Samuel Scott built a Carding Mill at Lon na Feille, the old Market Stance in Direcleit, the significance of which lies in the story of Harris Tweed as told in detail in Janet Hunter's 'The Islanders and the Orb'.

Some accounts of Mrs Thomas have her moving to London and remarrying, and she certainly had facilities in London but I have found a Frances S Thomas who died in Midlothian in 1902 in her early 80s. Either 'my' Mrs Captain Thomas is the wrong one, or the death of someone in the 'right place' and with the correct name and age is a coincidence, or the 62 year-old widow did not in fact marry for a second time. As it happens, a fourth option occured. Frances did indeed marry for a second time. Her husband was Retired Staff Commander James Flowers Beckett. However, she did die in Edinburgh on the 7th of September 1902 and her usual address at that time was St Leonard's On Sea. This accords perfectly with the account in 'Islanders and the Orb', although Janet Hunter did not know which St Leonard's was referred to.

Tradition has it that in 1844 the Countess of Dunmore started the Harris Tweed Industry.

A rough approximation of the number of people, overwhelmingly women, explicitly engaged in Weaving on Harris, including those using the later term 'Web' is given here:

1841 5
1851 130
1861 100
1871 (70 Note: This census under-records occupations)
1881 130
1891 390 (inc 130 Web)
1901 220 (inc 5 Web)

We have to proceed with caution for, just as there was a time-lag between the building of the Embroidery School and our first record of a teacher (and no records of the women doing the actual embroidering!) and between the establishing of the Stocking Knitter Industry and the appearance of Stocking Knitters, so with these figures.

It is best to ignore the 1841 figure (which is annoying as an accurate figure for that year would have been particularly valuable!) and look at those for the second-half of the Century. These clearly show a reasonable degree of stability before what can only be described as the explosion of 1891.

The 1891 figure appears as clear evidence of the impact of the Duchess of Sutherland and her colleagues in the Scottish Home Industries Association but the earlier stability is equally revealing.
If there were as many engaged in producing Harris Tweed in 1881 as there had been in 1851 then it tips the balance in favour of the mid 1840s being the birth of the industry.

It also suggests that neither the Countess with her contacts, nor Mrs Captain Thomas who hailed from London, nor the growth of the Mercantile class on Harris had chosen, or perhaps been able, to provide the means by which an expansion could occur. By 1867 the 7th Earl had spent his money on building property in North Harris whilst the last specific contribution by the Countess was her diversifying into Stocking Knitting a decade earlier. It is Mrs Thomas who the Minister at Tarbert describes as having a personal presence amongst the people in the 1880s.

So where does all this lead us? It is my belief that the answer to the origin and early development of Harris Tweed lies in the relationship between the Countess and The Captain's Wife. The former, recently widowed just at the time that the latter's husband is embarking on his surveying of the seas around Harris. It is entirely conceivable that Mrs Thomas was conveyed to the island on HMS Porcupine and, as the wife of an Officer in the Royal Navy who was engaged in work of vital value to the Dunmore Estate, she would have been welcomed at Rodel House. This Wool-Merchant's daughter would have been interested in the local textiles and had the right contacts to aid in their development. The 'Paisley Sisters' in 1851 were a short walk, horse or boat-ride around the corner from Rodel so it is possible that Mrs Thomas made that journey to see their skills for herself. The two ladies are known to have collaborated in establishing the Stocking Knitting in 1857 so it is entirely feasible for them to have been liaising on the selling of cloth prior to this date.

It is also possible that Mrs Thomas may have visited Harris before the Countess ever set foot there, but the inverse is equally probable. Whatever the order of precedence, I am convinced that the Countess and The Captain's Wife had a closer, longer-lived and more productive relationship than the partisan accounts of later years might suggest. Once the 7th Earl had taken control of the island, via his Factor, the Countess appears to have been side-lined somewhat but Mrs Thomas certainly remained actively involved with the islanders.

The Countess of Dunmore's family 'invented' Harris Tweed but I think it was the fortuitous presence of her new friend Mrs Captain Thomas that helped ensure its survival.

Remove either lady (and the particular circumstances of each as Widowed Countess and Captain's Wife, respectively) and the story of Harris Tweed would have been very different, if indeed it existed to be told at all...

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Duncan Shaw

The first Factor appointed by the Dunmore's in 1834 was Duncan Shaw. In 1841 the 60 year-old is found on North Uist in a household comprising himself plus six women, two of whom were servants. I have been unable to find him in later censuses.

In 1841, John Lindsay was the Estate Officer at Rodel, where John Robson Macdonald was the Farmer, and Donald Stewart was the Farmer at Borve. Stewart, whom Shaw had succeeded as Factor prior to Macdonald's appointment in/by 1851, was supported in his campaign of Clearances by his predecessor.

The precise range of roles each of the trio had at specific periods is complex, and probably only to be unravelled by close consultation of the Dunmore papers, but a clear impression of them passing the baton with which to beat the islanders is emerging...

Home Industries Associations

I am attempting to learn more about the Scottish Home Industries Association and the
Highland Home Industries and Arts Association that were formed in 1889.

Does anyone knows anything about either of them?

Thanks in anticipation!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

One Man and His Pub

The Man
This is a tale from my Mother's family and the 'action' takes place in Maidstone, Kent where James Bushnell was born in 1829. His parents were Joseph Bushnell, an Ironmonger from Lambeth in London, and Elizabeth Weekes who came from (I think!) a farming background in East Sussex.

James, like all the men in this family, learned the trade of the Smith (both Black and White) and lived and worked at the family's Ironmongery Shop in Week Street in the centre of Maidstone which is where the 22 year-old was in 1851.
(Their neighbour was a Hatter & Glover whose daughter married one of James' three brothers, but that is incidental to this story save for it being the union from which I am descended)

The Pub
The Market House Inn sits on the North side of Earl Street and was earlier known as The Coal Barge Inn. In Pigot's 1840 Directory it appears at 14, Earl Street with John Furminger landlord. Pigots 1840

A modern-day image and description can be found on the English Heritage site here: Market House Inn

A decade later, at the time of the 1851 census, the Licensed victualler is one Charles Homer, a 36 year-old hailing from Lambeth in London and he is recorded there too in an 1855 Directory.

The Man AND The Pub
In the last-quarter of 1852 James Bushnell married Jane Usmar. Her father was a Licensed Victualler and in 1851 she was living with her brother who ran the 'Rose and Crown' in Maidstone High Street. Having married-into this particular pub-running dynasty, it comes as no great surprise to find Melville's Directory of 1858 listing the landlord of the Market House as one James Bushnell.

What the directory does not tell us is that with James were his wife Jane and their two daughters, aged 4 and 3, plus their infant son. A couple of years later their world was shattered when, in May/Jun 1860, Jane Usmar died. She was just 35 years old. By September of that same year, James' Mother was also dead and it must have been particularly devastating for his children to have lost both their mother and one of their grandmothers within a few months of each other.

Thus it was that the census next year listed the inhabitants of the Market House as:

James Bushnell, 32, Licensed Victualler, Widower, 32
Elizabeth Bushnell, 7, Daughter
Frederick Bushnell, 4, Son
Ann Jukes, 18, Barmaid
William Harding, Ostler

James' other daughter, 6 year-old Alice, was at his father's house but whether this was by chance or an ongoing arrangement following the trauma of the previous year I cannot be certain.

In the final-quarter of 1861 James Bushnell married 25 year-old Frances Jackson, daughter of a deceased Engineer and his Milliner wife and hailing from...Lambeth in London. Seven years later, her sister, Rosanna, married James' brother, Joseph in what was to prove to be not the last marital link between these two particular families.

Kelly's Directories of 1862 and 1867 each record James manning the pumps in the pub and, coincidentally, it is in each of those years that Frances bears him another child, bringing his tally to five.

However, as if fate hadn't been cruel enough to James already, in Jan/Mar 1868 the 32 year-old Frances was taken from him. Her children were only 1 and 4 years old.

Thus it was that the 1871 census, as that of the previous decade, showed sadness at the Market House:

James Bushnell, 42, Licensed Victualler
Elizabeth Bushnell, 17, Daughter
Clara Bushnell, 7, Daughter
James A Bushnell,3,  Son
Martha Maston, 51, Housekeeper

Alice was, again, 'abroad' but this time on the Weeks' family farm in Sussex whilst her younger brother was 'AWOL' but thankfully reappears in rude health in future records! James' sister, Elizabeth, had married a Thomas Weekes and it was with them that Alice was staying. (It is to be assumed that this Thomas Weekes was of the same Sussex family as his wife's Mother but I have not explored that particular web in detail.)

In the final-quarter of 1871 James Bushnell married Maria Jackson, the sister of his previous wife. This was not only his third marriage but also the third marriage between a Bushnell 'boy' and a Jackson 'girl' of the same families.

Kelly's Directory of 1874 includes the, almost inevitable, record of James in charge of pub and seven years later in 1881 the occupants are:

James Bushnell, 52, Licensed Victualler
Maria Bushnell, 44, Wife
Frederick Usmar Bushnell, 24, Son, Compositor (Printer)
Alice Bushnell, 22, Daughter, Assistant
Clara Ellen Bushnell, 17, Daughter, Assistant
James Arthur Bushnell, 13, Son
Elizabeth Weekes, 53, Visitor, Farmers Wife
Elizabeth Jackson, 55, Visitor

With the exception of James' eldest child, daughter Elizabeth, this was the whole family living and, in most cases, working together. The two 'Visitors' are of note as Elizabeth Weekes was James' sister and Elizabeth Jackson was Maria's. In fact this record is one of those that is particularly helpful in helping to solve the three-dimensional jigsaw-puzzle of people, places and times that we call genealogy.

Another tragedy was to strike James and Maria for, although they had had no children together, his daughter, and her step-daughter and niece, Clara Ellen died in 1890 at the age of 27.

The Post Office Directory of 1891 lists James for the final time and the census of that year provides:

James Bushnell, 62, Licensed Victualler
Maria, 53, Wife
Arthur, 23, Son, General Assistant
Emily Harris, 27, Domestic Servant
Ellen Fuller, 19, Domestic Servant

By 1901, James and Maria had retired after his having been the landlord for at least 33 years and those who followed at the Market House according to the Post Office directory were:

1903 Charles Dann
1913 William James Rendell
1918 Frederick W Pearce
1922 Fredk W Pearce
1930 Wm Patrick
1938 Mrs Ellen Hamilton

A total of five different people in a period of 35 years.

And of the four remaining children, for whom the one constant in their lives appears to have been their father and his pub?

Arthur James became an Upholsterer's Assistant,.
Frederick Usmar (who was given his second name only following the death of his mother, Jane Usmar) became a Jobbing Printer, married and had at least seven children.
Of the two girl's, Elizabeth and Alice, I have yet to find any further record...

Note: Some of the relationships between people, places and events that I have described have only come to light in the process of writing this narrative – the facts were to hand but it was only in the weaving of the tale that they showed themselves to me.