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

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

33 Keith Street, Stornoway

I have been intending compiling this list of those residing at number 33, and its associated parts, for some time because these records from five consecutive censuses provide us with a typical portrait of the people of the town of Stornoway in the 19thC:

1861
Murdo Montgomery, 65, Sawyer, 33 Keith St, b. Stornoway
Ann Montgomery, 55, Wife, b. Stornoway
Dugald Mcgillivray, 27, Carter, Boarder, b. Invernessshire
Murdo Macleod, 21, Apprentice Joiner, Boarder, b. Lochs
Norman Montgomery, 16, Apprentice Miller, b. Lochs
Margaret Thomson, 29, Domestic Servant, b. Barvas
Donald Macleod, 27, Tailor(poss Sailor?), Lodger, b. Barvas
Kenneth Macleod, 18, Cartwright, 33 Keith St, b. Inverness-shire

Malcolm Kerr, 36, Seaman, 33 Keith St, b. Invernessshire
Mary Kerr, 38, Wife, b. Lochs
Catherine Kerr, 11, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Ann Kerr, 8, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Alexander John Kerr, 5, Son, b. Stornoway
Malcolm Kerr, 3, son, b. Stornoway
Margaret Kerr, Daughter, 4 months, b. Stornoway

Multiple-occupancy is quite usual for the time as are households comprising people from a variety of families originating from across the isles and in a range of occupations.
The second family is obviously why I first came upon 33 Keith Street but other occupants over time have also appeared in the particular entries on occupations that I have provided links for.

1871
George Mackenzie, 69, Grocer & Spirit Dealer, 33 Keith St, b. Stornoway
Isabella Mackenzie, 56, Grocer & Spirit Dealer, Wife, b. Stornoway
Alexander Mackenzie, 34, Joiner, Son, b. Stornoway
Isabella Lees, 28, Ship Carpenter's Wife, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Mary Mackenzie, 22, Domestic Servant, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Elizabeth Mackenzie, 20, Domestic Servant, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Isabella B Cooper, 8, Scholar, Granddaughter, b. Portmahomack, Ross-shire
Mary Lees, 6 months, Granddaughter, b. Stornoway

Catherine Mackenzie, 71, Pauper, 33 ½ Keith St, b. Lochs

Maggie Mackenzie, 63, Pauper, 33 ½ Keith St, b. Uist, Invernessshire
Marion Mackenzie, 28, General Servant, Daughter
Barbara Mackenzie, 24, General Servant, Daughter

The first thing to note is the use of '33 ½' to identify a dwelling. The next Census suggests that this was probably the 'Back Court' of number 33 and the use of '½', which we might liken to '33a', is found all over the town. The presence of two Pauper households here is a sad reminder that poverty existed within the town as well as in the rural areas of the islands.
The other feature is that the main house appears now to be one household and we learn that George and Isabella were both in trade and that their daughter Isabella has married a Mr Lees and gave birth to a daughter in Stornoway six months before the census. Unfortunately we do not know which daughter was responsible for granddaughter Isabella B Cooper.

1881
George Mackenzie, 79, Builder, Head, 33 Keith St, b. Stornoway
Isabella Mackenzie, 67, Wife, b. Stornoway
Alexander Mackenzie, 43, House Carpenter, Son, b. Stornoway
Margaret Mackenzie, 34, House Keeper, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Mary Macdonald, 32, Seaman's Wife, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Isabella Lees, 7, Scholar, Granddaughter, b. Govan, Lanarkshire
Mary Macdonald, 2, Granddaughter, b. Stornoway
Alexander Macdonald, 9 months, Grandson, b. Stornoway
Kenneth Macsween, 18, Carter, Servant, b. Lochs
Isabella Cooper, 18, Granddaughter, b. Tarbert, Ross-shire

William Maclean, 46, General Labourer, 33 Keith St Back Court, b. Lochs
Ann Maclean, 39, Wife, b. Lochs

Neil Morrison, 40, Carter, 33, Keith St Back Court, b. Lochs
Catherine Morrison, 35, Wife, b. Lochs
Murdo Smith, 18, Tailor (Apprentice), Boarder, b. Lochs
Kenneth Morrison, 18, Shoemaker (Apprentice), Boarder, b. Uig, Ross-shire
Alexander Macdonald, 18, Cooper (Apprentice), Boarder, b. Lochs
Malcolm Maclean, 18, Tailor (Apprentice), Boarder, b. Lochs

The Mackenzie family are still the sole family occupying number 33 but a dramatic change of occupation has seen George become a builder possibly a reflection of his son Alexander being a Joiner/House Carpenter or had the Temperance movement played a part, too? Daughter Mary has married a Mr Macdonald and added two more Stornowegians to the population during the past couple of years and we can see that her sister Isabella Lees was in Govan giving birth to a daughter seven years ago.
The 'Back Court' is now home to two households with that of the Morrisons playing host to four young apprentices from Lochs and Uig.

1891
Malcolm Maciver, 32, Tailor & Clothier, 33 Keith Street, b. Uig, Ross-shire
Annie Maciver, 24, Wife, b. Stornoway
Malcolm Maciver, 3, Son, b. Stornoway
Kate Maciver, 1, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Maggie Macleod, 20, Domestic Servant, b. Stornoway
Alexander Macleod, 26, Naval Reserve Man, Boarder, b. Stornoway
John Mackay, 25, Naval Reserve Man, Boarder, b. Stornoway
John Macaulay, 28, Naval Reserve Man, Boarder, b. Stornoway
Donald Macaulay, 25, Naval Reserve Man, Boarder, b. Stornoway
William Macleod, 30, Naval Reserve Man, Boarder, b. Stornoway

Malcolm Macleod, , 32, Fisherman, 33 Keith Street, b. Lochs
Catherine Macleod, 32, Wife, b. Lochs
Roderick Macleod, 5, son, b. Lochs
Maggie Macleod, 1, Daughter, b. Stornoway
John A Macleod, 6 months, Son, b. Stornoway
Murdo Macleod, 35, Sailor, Visitor, b. Lochs
Isabella Macleod, 28, Visitor, b. Lochs

We appear now to have two large households at number 33 and no reference to the 'Back Court'.
I do not know if the sixteen residents and one visitor were indeed squeezed together under one roof, reflecting the fifteen people at the address in 1861, but the presence of five who gave their occupation as 'Naval Reserve Man' is interesting. Did they have other occupations at this time or were they unemployed, for being in the Naval Reserve is not in itself a job. Possibly they were engaged in Naval duties at this time in which case it would be interesting to know if being billeted on families was typical. Yet more puzzles to be solved!

1901
Angus Maciver, 42, Spirit Dealer, 33 Keith St, b. Uig, Ross-shire
Mary Maciver, 42, Wife, b. Uig, Ross-shire
John Maciver, 14, Scholar, Son, b. Uig
Christina Maciver, 12, Scholar, Daughter, b. Uig
Catherine Ann Maciver, 3, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Margaret Mary Maciver, 1 month, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Finlay Smith, 32, Crofter, Brother, b. Barvas

Alexander Maclean, 42, Cooper, 33 Keith St, b. Stornoway
Mary Maclean, 42, Wife, b. Stornoway
Catherine Maclean, 9, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Maryann Maclean, 7, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Alexander Duncan Maclean, 4, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
Flora Maclean, 3 months, Daughter, b. Stornoway

Mary Graham, 66, Head, 33 Keith St, b. Stornoway
Donald Nicolson, 42, Fisherman, Brother, b. Barvas
Angus Morrison, 43, Fisherman, Brother, b. Barvas
Norman Macdonald, 21, Fisherman, Brother, b. Barvas
Donald Macdonald, 28, Fisherman, Brother, b. Barvas

Our final list shows a return to the Spirit Dealing of 30 years previously. The Maciver family appear to have moved to the town from Uig at least three years earlier. I don't know if Finlay Smith was Mary Maclean's brother but it is interesting that one of the Uig-born Macivers had a Barvas-born brother.
On the subject of brothers, I would suggest that the four fishermen, with three different surnames, living at Mary Graham's were not in fact all brothers of hers, unless she had a particularly convoluted family history!

In conclusion, I hope that this rather long list of those associated with 33 Keith Street during a forty-year period has served, as suggested at the start, as an illustration several aspects of Stornoway and its people.
Oh, and if anyone can tell me what became of number 33 and 33 ½/Back Court I would love to know because as far as I can tell they have disappeared!

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