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

Thursday, 23 September 2010

From the Falkland Islands to the Isle of Harris

I am looking at the Passenger List for the ACONCAGUA, Official Number 65969, for a voyage from Valparaiso in Chile to Liverpool in England. She was owned by the Pacific Steam Navigation Company Limited from 1872-1895 and is described thus:

'Built by John Elder & Co., Glasgow, Scotland. Tonnage: 4,106. Dimensions: 404' x 41'. Single-screw, 14 knots. Compound inverted D.A. engines. Three masts and one funnel. Iron hull. Clipper bow. '

She called at Punto Arenas where one of those boarding was M Mcdonald, a 'Scotch' (sorry, I didn't construct the form!) single, male Labourer. The voyage included stops at Montevideo, Rio Janeiro, Pernambruto, Lisbon, Plymouth before reaching Liverpool on the 10th of April 1892.

My interest in this information lies in the fact that Murdo Macdonald, who was born in the Falkland Islands in about 1871, married Ann Kerr (daughter of Angus the fisherman)  in Tarbert, Harris on the 1st of November 1892 and we find the couple and four of their five children in North Harris in 1901 where Murdo's occupation is given as Labourer (Mason).

Although I cannot be certain that the Aconcagua's passenger was indeed Murdo it certainly could have been the man who was a grandfather of several of my cousins in Harris and Lewis.

Update: Murdo's parents were, according to his Marriage Certificate,  Angus Mcdonald & Christy Morrison. The 1901 census shows the following:

Christina Mcdonald, 59, Woolspinner, No 46 North Harris*, b. Harris
Marion Mcdonald, 21, Daughter, b. Falkland Islands
(*North Harris with a No. is probably 46 Tarbert, the 1901 Census not specifying Tarbert addresses)

There is no record of either of them in the 1891 census.

Although I have been unable to discover their voyage from the Falkland Islands to the Isle of Harris, I find it tantalisingly plausible that this mother and daughter are Murdo's mother and sister. If so, then his mother was born in Harris and it is interesting that there is one marriage recorded between an Angus Macdonald and a Christina Morrison on the island. It took place in 1871 and so we can imagine the couple marrying prior to their departure for a new life many thousands of miles away, at least two children resulting from their union and then these two and their mother returning to the isle of their parents birth.

I will, in due course, examine the Marriage Certificate which, together with a search for and examination of the Death Certificates of these three, should settle the matter.

Update: I was interested in learning about population figures for the Falkland Islands and eventually found these tables showing 811 people in 1871, 1510 in 1881, 1789 in 1891 & 2043 by 1901. There is an informative timeline and much other useful information to be seen on the site.


  1. my grandnother was christy ann macdonald daugher of murdo macdonald and annie kerr born on the 20th nov 1895 in haris her parents were married on the 1st nov 1892 in harris

  2. Hello Cousin Katie!
    Your grandmother was my '2nd cousin 2 times removed' and we are 4th Cousins! (Annie Kerr was my 1st Cousin 3 times removed and it is her grandfather, John Kerr the Tailor in Direcleit, from whom you & I are descended)
    Thank you ever so much for getting in touch.
    All the best,

  3. I am related both to Finlay J, and to Murdo Ewen Macdonald, one of the prominent preachers and theologians of the 20th century.My third cousin, Flora Ann MacDonald's father was always known as "Jonathan of the Falklands" if you are interested in contactin her, please email me at christine.chirsty.cleal@gmail.com. great blog!

    1. A very belated reply, but Flora Ann is also my third cousin, once removed, and by pure chance the person I wrote to when first attempting to unmangle the various spellings of Direcleit as they appear in various censuses. It was a truly delightful surprise when she replied showing our two respective family trees and the link between them :).

  4. A very very belated reply. Thank you for the information. A lot of folk went out as shepherds to the Falklands.One site has Murdo's father Angus as being born in the Falklands. Maybe a bit of wishful thinking. I still look at your blog and it's always very interesting to one stuck down near Cape Town and far from home!