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, 18 November 2010

Schooling in Finsbay

Having compiled various lists and other material relating to education in Harris, I thought I would make a start on looking at individual schools and have decided to begin with Finsbay in the Bays of Harris:

Donald Maclean, 24, Schoolmaster, Finsbay, b. North Uist
John Maclean, 22, Farm Labourer, Brother, b. North Uist
Ann Maclean, 20, House Servant, Sister, b. North Uist
Christy Maclean, 16, House Servant, Sister, b. North Uist

William Dingwall, 26, Schoolmaster, General Assembly, Finsbay, b. Ross-shire

1871 – None found in the 11 households containing 66 people in Finsbay

1872 Education (Scotland) Act

1881 Finsbay is not identified but if it lay in ED4 at this time then my instinct suggests:
Thomas M Brunton, 37, Teacher 'Elementary School' MA, School House, South Harris ED4, b. Glasgow (Wife Jessie, 32, was the Sewing Mistress at 'Elm School')

Donald J MacRae, 40, Public School Teacher, Finsbay, b. Applecross, Ross-shire
Margaret MacRae, 39, Sewing Mistress, Wife, b. Uig, Lewis, Ross-shire
Marjorie M MacRae, 3, Daughter, b. Harris
Neitina(?) M MacRae, 1, Daughter, b. Harris
Christy MacDonald, 17, General Servant Domestice, b. North Uist

Donald J Macrae, 50, Public School Teacher, Finsbay School House, b. Applecross, Ross-shire
Margaret Macrae, 48, Sewing Mistress, Wife, b. Lewis
Marjorie M Macrae, Scholar, Daughter, b. Harris
Kilbina M Macrae, Scholar, Daughter, b. Harris

No of Children (from Pupil Number Data)
1919 - 58 pupils
1929 – 39 pupils
1938 – 24 pupils
1950 – 32 pupils
1958 – 24 pupils
1969 - closed

We can say with certainty that in 1851 and 1861 there was a schoolmaster residing in Finsbay but as to the location of the school itself and which church employed them I cannot say. No teacher is found in Finsbay itself in 1871 and this is followed by the 1872 Education Act and the consequent building of the Public School in 1876. Unfortunately Finsbay is not identified on the 1881 Census but there were three Schoolmasters in South Harris that might be candidates for the the post and of these I have opted for Thomas Brunton for he is the only one with a Sewing Mistress Wife and we can see that to have also been the case when Donald Macrae took over the role, possibly by 1888 for his eldest daughter was born in Harris in that year.

Finally, we have the figures showing the declining pupil numbers from the end of WWI until the school's closure in 1969, just 7 short years away from being able to celebrate a century of schooling for the children of Finsbay and the surrounding area in this part of the Bays of Harris.

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