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, 8 May 2010

Harris Policemen

Here are all the policemen from the 1851-1901 censuses in the Parish of Harris:

1851
Murdoch Matheson, 42, Tarbert, Rural Police Constable, b.Kilmuir, Inverness
Wife and 5 children (9 year-old b.Portree, 5 year-old b.Harris so here after 1842 but by1846)

1861
Alexander Maclellan, 28, East Tarbert, Police Constable, Lodger, b. Avoch, Rossshire
(Landlord, Malcolm Morrison, 56, Blacksmith, b. Harris)

1871
Alexander Bain Maclennan, 38, House at Tarbert, Officer of Police, b.Strath of Auchtoghten(!), Rossshire
Wife and 5 children

Ewan Kennedy, 45, Hotel Tarbert, Police Man, Visitor, b.Invernessshire
(Hotel Keeper, William Grant from Stirling)

1881
Donald Fraser, 25, 26 East Tarbert, Police Constable, b.Glasgow

Donald Mackenzie, 28, South Harris, Police Constable, Boarder, b.Lochs, Rossshire
(Landlord, Roderick Matheson, Teacher Public School, b. Lochalsh)

1891
Thomas J Fraser, 28, 5 East Tarbert, Police Constable, Boarder, b.Howmore, Invernessshire
(Landlord Angus Macdonald, Postmaster, b. Benbeen(?), Inverness-shire)

Peter Fraser, 24, Obbe, Police Constable, b.Grantown, Invernesssire
(Wife and 1 year-old son)

Donald Mackenzie, 40, Borve(Bernera), Police Constable, Lodger, b.Lochs, Rossshire
Sinclair Tait, 28, Borve (Bernera), Police Constable, Lodger, b.Reay, Sutherlandshire
(Landlord of both Bernera constables, John Paterson, Cottar)

1901
William Mackenzie, 42, No.27 North Harris, Police Constable, b. Avoch, Rossshire
(Wife and 5 children, 10 year-old b.Duirnsih, 7 year-old b.Harris so here after 1891 but by 1894)

Thomas John Fraser, 38, Obbe, Police Constable, b.S Virt, Invernessshire

(Kenneth Macaskill, 32, Police Constable (Glasgow Police), Son, Berneray, b. Berneray)

Perhaps the main point of interest here is that none of the Policemen listed were Hearachs, but two of the later ones were islanders: one came from Lochs, Lewis and another from Howmore, South Uist.

Whether this reflects the linguistic challenges of the occupation (all that paperwork!) or the preferences of those with the power to make the appointments remains to be seen.

The other thing to notice is that, counter to most of the occupations that I have examined, the policing of Harris starts in Tarbert and a presence in the South only appears much later. This possibly reflects the relatively late-introduction of policing as a role in society but nevertheless is surprising. The 'Rural Police Constable' was serving the County of Inverness-shire, unlike those in Lewis who were in Ross-shire, so I wouldn't have thought that proximity to Stornoway by 'road' would have been relevant. Perhaps the Factor was an influence in the locating of the these policemen?

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