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, 2 December 2010

Inverness District Lunatic Asylum

I understand that this establishment, more correctly called Craig Dunain Hospital, was built in the 1860s and more detail can be read here .

These are the men & women born in Harris whom the census records indicate were Patients within it.
I have arranged them by Occupation and put in bold those who may appear more than once:

1871 (1)
Donald Morrison, 34, Farm Servant

1881 (2)
Donald Morrison, 45, Farm Servant
Annabella Mcdonald, 22, N.K.

1891 (10)
Donald Macdonald, 34, Fisherman
Roderick McKinnon, 27, Fisherman

Norman Cunningham, 42, Sheriff Officer

Donald Morrison, 55, Farm Servant
Samuel Mcdonald, 20, Labourer

Alexander Campbell, 46, No Occupation
Neil Mcinnes, 59, No Occupation

Ann McKinnon, 45, Weaveress
Ann McKinnon, 40, Weaveress

Christina McCuspic, 63, General Servant

1901 (11)
Donald Macdonald, 44, Fisherman
Donald Macdonald, 32, Fisherman
John Mackay, 27, Fisherman
Donald Macleod, 26, Fisherman
Donald Morrison, 50, Fisherman

John Macsween, 29, Labourer

Catherine Maclennan, 43, Fisherman's Wife
Anna Bella Macleod, 41, Dressmaker
Jessie Morrison, 53, Dairy Maid
Catherine Macdonald, 28, Servant
Margaret Morrison, 25, Servant

As we do not know what led to each of these incarcerations it is impossible to know the nature of the illnesses (or, indeed, indiscretions) themselves, but the fact that over half of those recorded in 1901 were associated with fishing could well be indicating an aspect of that harsh existence that might otherwise be overlooked?

It appears that in 1871 there were about 300 Patients, in 1881 the number rose to 400 and then again to 500 in 1891. By 1901 there were nearly 650 Patients at the hospital but what story that might relate regarding attitudes to mental health is beyond the scope of this piece.

Norman Cunningham, who is described as a Sheriff Officer in 1891, appears to be the same Norman Cunningham who was a Lighthouse Keeper, albeit unemployed in 1881 but working on Raasay in 1871?
If so, I am happy to be able to relate that by 1901 he and his wife Mary were living-out their retirement in Manish on Harris with their 25 year-old daughter, Christy, who had been born at Sumburgh Head in the Shetland Isles. I have written a little more about him in one of my pieces on Lighthouse Keepers.

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