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

Friday, 23 July 2010

An Old Parish Register Marriage...

from the Parish of Lochs, Lewis.

25th February 1840 - John Montgomery residing at Shildinish to Anne Kerr residing at Shildinish.

The 1841 census records 47 people in Shildinish including these 3 households:
John Montgomery, 25 & Anne Montgomery, 25
Murdo Keir, 65 & Mary Keir, 65
Murdo Montgomery, 60 & Margaret Montgomery, 50 with their 5 children

By 1851 a John Montgomery, wife Anne & 4 children are found in Ranish, Lochs where we see them still in 1861. In 1871 & 1881 they appear in Lemreway and in 1891 the widowed Anne is at 18 Lemreway.

I cannot find her after this and neither can I find the death of an Anne Montgomery who's maiden name was Kerr/Keir/Carr . This is unfortunate for without it I cannot discover who her parents were. There is, intriguingly, the death in 1870 of a 57 year-old Ann Montgomery in Lochs who's other name was Carr but that cannot be the same Ann unless John replaced one Ann with a second one within a year, which the marriage records do not support! However, I shall in time investigate this other lady for Carr/Kerr/Keir are unusual names in the isles and any such appearance is worth exploring.

If Ann's parents were Murdo Keir and his wife, Mary, then I cannot locate their deaths (presumably pre-1851 for they do not appear in that census) either.

Thus, I do not know if Anne Kerr who married John Montgomery is a relative or not, but her marriage is the earliest record of the name Kerr that I've found on Lewis and that, together with my family's connections with this particular area of Lochs, influenced my decision to compose this wee piece.

John Montgomery, by the way,  was one of those who turned to the sea to make a living as a Fisherman.

Update: I was wandering through some old searches that I'd conducted on ScotlandsPeople and, lo & behold, some years ago I'd looked at (but not noted because it wasn't the person I was seeking at that time) the 1870 Death of an Ann Carr. Looking at that record now, it is indeed the death of Ann Montgomery, wife of the Crofter John Montgomery in Balallan, Lochs. Her parents are shown as Murdo Carr and Mary McIver (her maiden-name is unclear, but McIver's the 'best-fit').  Therefore, the Murdo & Mary Keir of 1841 were indeed her parents so I now need to check the children in the censuses of 1851 onwards to ensure that I have correctly identified this family (I have put in bold individuals who appear to be the same person in different censuses and in italics those who could well be the same person but using another of their names)

1851 - Ranish
John, 34, Farmer of 3 acres & Fisher
Ann, 34
John, 7
Sophia, 5
Isabella, 3
Murdo, 6 months

1861 - Ranish
John, 49, Crofter
Anne, 46
Flora, 20
John, 12
Donald, 8
Murdo, 5

1871 - Lemreway
John, 54, Fisherman
Ann, 54
John, 27
Isabella, 22
Murdo, 20
Catherine, 17
Angus, 15
Robert, 10
Donald, 8

1881 - Lemreway
John, 60
Anne, 60
Murdo, 27
Angus, 23
Robert, 21
Donald, 17


I think that there is plenty of evidence here that this is the same family, but is it that of John Montgomery and Ann(e) Carr/Keir? There are no other Ann(e) Montgomerys of her generation in Lochs in the 1861 census. The other two ladies are married to spouses whose ages eliminate a transcription error. Therefore it appears as if, swiftly following the death of Ann Carr on the 7th of March 1870, John Montgomery did indeed relace her with another lady called Ann(e). however, as I mentioned earlier, there is no record of such a marriage taking place. In fact there is no such marriage in the whole of Ross & Cromarty until 1899!

I have checked and double-checked the Montgomery families in Lochs and the whole of Ross & Cromarty (I do have an interest in that I am descended from a tailor of that name from Leurbost in Lochs) and cannot see any alternative to the slightly odd conclusion that after the unknown cause of his wife's death after a week's illness, John Montgomery found a new companion of the same name and age. It is not odd that a widower, or a widow, should do so but the lack of a recorded marriage is certainly outside the norm of my genealogical studies.

Finally, if anyone can spot a flaw in my logic then I'd love to hear from you! Meantime, I wonder where Murdo Keir/Carr came from for, with an estimated birth date of 1776, only Chersty Kerr the 1761-born Hand Loom Weaver of Taransay is an earlier Kerr/Keir/Carr recorded in the censuses of Lewis & Harris!



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