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

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Ellan Anaby

In the Croft History of Deiraclete & Kendebig, it states that the eldest child of Neil Martin & Ann Macdonald of No 6 Direcleit was John Martin (1801-1881) who married Catherine Macaulay from 1 Ardhasaig before the couple settled in Eileananabuich. I thought I'd have a look at this very distant uncle of mine and soon found myself surrounded by a flurry of dates and locations that have taken a little unravelling.

The nearest I could find to the location was in the 1861 census where a John and Catherine are shown living in the Ellan Anaby of this piece's title. A little manipulation led to me locating Eilean Anabuich, the Unripe Island, which, as Bill Lawson puts it, '...kept confusing the old census takers...' for, despite the name,  it is a village on mainland Harris on the shore of Loch Maraig looking towards Loch Seaforth. We are deep in the Forest of Harris where it is easy for one to lose sight of the wood for the trees, despite there not being any!

In 1861 John the Fisherman, Catherine and two of their four children had 55 neighbours in the other 10 households of Eilean Anbuich.  In 1841 there had been 57 people living in 'Miavag' and in 1851 some 81 folk were found in 'Meavag', these earlier references appearing to be to the nearby settlement of Maraig without apparently separately identifying its small unripe neighbour?

The final glimpse of John and Catherine, in 1871, fails to identify the specific location within Enumeration District 20 but it does include two grandchildren, probably the daughters of their son John and his wife Ann although the census neglects to include that detail too.

I don't know where 'my' Martins originated from but Uig in Lewis, Boreray off North Uist and Skye via Borve, Harris are apparently the three most likely candidates?

Update 30/04/15:
I have done a little more research and the widower John Martin died of old age on 15 November 1881 in Eileananbuich, Harris. His son, John, registered the death with 'his mark', an 'X'.

In the census of that year we see 84 year-old Retired Fisherman John Martin of 8 Isleanaby together with his 40 year-old son John, a fisherman, his daughter-in-law Marion and three grandchildren, Mary, Catherine and Donald.


  1. On the subject of Boreray, North Uist, a tantalising if distressing glimpse of life there in the 1880s is given in one piece of evidence to the Napier Commission. Angus Macdonald tells the story.

  2. Many thanks for supplying the link.
    Paying 'School Rates' when there was no school, and 'Road Rates' when there were no roads, was a complaint made by many islanders.