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

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Physicians of Harris

Here we have the gentlemen who were practising medicine on Harris at the time of each census:

1841
Robert Clark, 50, Doctor, Scarista, b. Scotland
Wife and 7 children, aged 3months to 12 years, six youngest all born on Harris in past 11 years

1851
Robert Clark, 53, General Practitioner(unreadable), Head, Nissishee, b. Inverchaolain, Argyllshire

1861 None listed
1871 None Listed

1881
Hamilton C Reid, 34, Physician and Surgeon, Head, East Tarbert 43, b. Ayr, Ayrshire
James Stewart, 22, Physician and Surgeon, Head, Kintulavig, b. Fontingail(?), Perthshire

(Isabella Clark, 43, Doctor's Daughter, Niece, 12 North Beach Street, Stornoway, b. Harris)
(Murdoch Macpherson, 68, Retired Sea Captain)

1891
James Stewart, 40, Physician and Surgeon, Head, No 15 West Tarbert, b. Aberfeldy, Perthshire

1901
W H Ferrier, 35, Physician, Head, Kintulavig

George Christian, 45 Doctor of Medicine, Lodger, Berneray, b. India

From the birthplaces of his children we can be sure that Robert Clark was practising from 1830 until at least 1851. It is unfortunate that no physicians were resident at the time of the 1861 and 1871 censuses but I can say that James Stewart (or, at least his wife!) arrived post-1876 which was when his son had been born in England. I should also add that, despite the apparent disparity in James' ages, he was indeed one and the same person.





I have been informed by a lady, who is an expert in the history of Medicine in the Highlands and Islands, that it was typical that no doctors were resident in 1861/71. It was the same throughout the Highlands and Islands and physician's were generally scarce until after WW1. It was why traditional medicine survived so long in area - not through whimsy, but through sheer necessity. The 1912 Dewar Report was the turning point.

She also mentioned that almost all the General Practitioners serving rural areas of the Highlands and Islands at the time were extremely dedicated and self-sacrificing, having very little income, etc.

(With Thanks to MB)

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