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

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Lobster Fishermen of Harris

In his evidence to the Napier Commission Kenneth Macdonald boasts that:

“There was no such thing as lobster fishing. I happen to be an agent of the first company that started for sending the lobsters to London.”

I thought I'd look to see what the census records have to tell us regarding his claim by researching those who gave their occupation as 'Lobster Fisher' from 1841-1901:

1851 – Kenneth Macdonald, 35, Factor's Clerk, Rodil, b. Applecross, Ross-shire
NORTH (1)
Donald Maclean, 30, ED21, b. Harris
TOTAL 1

1861 - Kenneth Macdonald, 43, Sheep Farmer, Big Borve, b. Applecross, Ross
NORTH (10)
John Martin, 30, Little Urgha, b. Harris
John Martin, 21, Little Urgha, b. Harris
Angus Mcdearmid, 29, Little Urgha (Visitor), b. Harris
Malcolm Kerr, 48, West Tarbert, b. Harris
Dougald Macdonald, 43, West Tarbert, b. Harris
Donald Kerr, East Tarbert, b. Harris
Donald Mcleod, 27, East Tarbert, b. Harris
Malcolm Shaw, 40, East Tarbert, b. Harris
Angus Shaw, 36, East Tarbert, b. Harris
BAYS & SOUTH (4)
Roderick Mclennan, 52, Direcleit, b. Harris
Donald Mckay, 29, Cregstore, b. Harris
Malcolm Morrison, 34, Struth, b. Harris
Alexander Mcleod, 22, Obe, b. Harris
John Mcleod, 22, Obe, b. Harris
TOTAL 14


1871 – Kenneth Macdonald, 54, Farmer, ED5, b. Applecross, Ross-shire
No Lobster Fishermen recorded (Fishers of Harris has numbers of ALL the Fishermen for that year)


1881 – Kenneth Macdonald, 64, Big Borve, Farmer and Factor, b. Applecross, Ross-shire
BAYS & SOUTH (5)
Kenneth Mcaskill, 32, ED5, b. Harris
Donald Mcaskill, 27, ED5, b. Harris
Lachlan Macdonald, 29, ED5, b. Harris
Christopher Morrison, 28, ED5, b. Harris
Hector Morrison, 23, ED5, b. Harris
TOTAL 5


1883 – Napier Commission


1891 – Kenneth Macdonald, 79, Farmer, Hamlets Scaristavore, b. Applecross
BAYS & SOUTH (3)
John Mcaskill, 23, Kyles Stockinish, b. Harris
Kenneth Mckinnon, 45, Kyles Stockinish, b. Harris
John Morrison, 20, Leac a Li, b. Harris
TOTAL 3


1901 – Kenneth Macdonald, not found...
BAYS & SOUTH (28)
Direcleit
Stockinish (10)
ED7 (10)
Obe
Kintulavig (2)
TOTAL 28

Kenneth Macdonald may well have been single-handedly responsible for creating the Lobster Fishing on Harris, and presumably profiting nicely in his role as an agent, but if we look at the figures then there is plenty to consider.

Firstly, considering the years 1861, 1881 and 1891 we have a total of 22 Lobster Fisherman giving an average of a little over six such persons per year. In 1901 there were nearly four times that number.
Secondly, if we take 1861 then we see that there were 14 Lobster Fishermen which is still only half the number in 1901.
The significance? Well, by 1901 Kenneth Macdonald was gone yet the Lobster Fishing appears to have gained hugely in popularity amongst those risking their lives in its pursuit. For Macdonald to have the cheek in 1883 to talk of that industry as if it was playing a significant part in alleviating the poverty that he himself had inflicted upon the populace in attempting to assuage his endless appetite for land upon which to graze his sheep, when in fact just two years earlier there had been but a handful of Lobster Fishermen in the whole of Harris, leaves a disgusting taste in one's mouth far-removed from that of the fruits of those brave fishermens' labour...

First a Cousin, now two Half-Brothers!

The friend who had alerted me to my Grandfather's Cousin, Donald Kerr, serviing with the Canadian forces in WWI contacted me today to ask if a Malcolm Kerr Maciver who is recorded here might be related too?

In the course of confirming that this was indeed my Grandfather's Half-Brother, I noticed a second name on the list and, having checked for the possibility that it might not be the case, confirmed that Malcolm's brother Alex John was there too: http://lewis-canada.blogspot.com
I should point-out that I have devoted comparatively little resources to exploring the Maciver family (William & Annie had 7 children between 1882 and 1895) so have yet to see what became of them all.
William and Annie were cousins, their respective mothers being two Macdonald sisters who had come to Stornoway after the Clearance of Orinsay in 1843.
These mothers, and countless other people, were deemed not 'profitable' enough for those who lauded the land but their sons, and countless others, did not hesitate to heed the call to fight, even those of them who were to be found all the way across the Atlantic:
The quote below, from within evidence to the Napier Commission that graphically describes such Clearances, proved not to be prophetic and the isles can claim to have supplied proportionately more men to 'The Great War' than any other part of the British Isles:
"It would appear that, when Britain becomes involved in a struggle with another nation in the future, they must send for the deer and sheep of Harris as well as its young men, and then they can see which is the best bargain."John Macleod, 13th June 1883, Tarbert, Harris

Lance Corporal Alex John Maciver b.16 January 1882
Carpenter
Last address in Lewis: 6 Plantation Road
Not married Next of kin: William Maciver, Father, of Stornoway
Canadian Engineers - Service number: 135382
Volunteered at Toronto on 29 July 1915
Twice wounded. Attestation papers not available*
(Note: the Front page is available, the second is missing)


Sapper Malcolm Kerr Maciver b.19 January 1890
Salesman
Last address in Lewis: 14 Plantation Road
Current address: 61 Crawford St, Toronto
Not married Next of kin: Annie Maciver, Mother, of 14 Plantation Road
Canadians - Service number: 766056
Volunteered at Toronto on 6 December 1915

Update: I was delighted to discover that both my Great-Uncles survived the war and married in Canada.
On the 28th March 1921, 39 tear-old Alexander John Maciver wed an Englishwoman, Annie Darch age 35, in York, Ontario. Her father was a Carpenter from London.  Malcolm Kerr Maciver married Philadelphia-born Charlotte Mary Flavelle on the 28th June 1924. Her father, who was working in a Carpet Mill in 1910, came from Ireland whilst her England-born mother was the daughter of Scottish parents.

Alexander John and Annie had a son, William who was born on the 13 April 1923.
He, like his father before him, went to war but unlike him young William never got to return home.
On the 25th July 1944 he was killed in France and is buried alongside nearly 3,000 fellow Canadians who fell during the battle for Normandy... http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/history/campaigns/northwesteurope/normandy.htm
(Operation SPRING, 'the costly attacks on the Verrieres Ridge', began on 25 July 1944)

RIP William Alexander Maciver (1923-1944)
of, according to http://lewiswwar2.blogspot.com/2008/01/stornoway-steornabhagh.html , 3 Westview Terrace, Stornoway.

Update 2: Investigating further, it appears that William Alexander Maciver's mother, Annie Darch, had a brother who emigrated to Michigan where he met and, in 1919,  married Adolphina Hemberger from Erling near Munich in Germany. In 1933 Annie and the 9 year-old William made the 350-mile trip to visit her brother, Adolphina and their 13 year-old son, Robert.
The 21 year-old Musician Robert Darch enlistedwith the US Army in 1941 and appears to have survived.
It must have been a terrible time for Adolphina, the migrant from Germany, and made all the worse when the news reached them of her husband's nephew's death in the Battle for Normandy.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Donald Kerr in the Canadian Expeditionary Force

Until this morning I was unaware of any of my relatives having participated in 'The Great War', as WWI once used to be called. A communication arrived alerting me to to this entry which proved a double surprise.

Firstly, because of it being a cousin of mine and, secondly, because I also wasn't aware that he had emigrated to Canada! I immediately checked on Ancestry.co.uk and there, in the Canadian records that I had no previous reason to search with regard to Donald, was the original 'Attestation Paper', presumably completed, or at least signed, in his own hand. The Regimental Number is shown as 197, but I am ignorant as to whether that is his personal Service Number or just a record that he was the 197th volunteer? A 'Sapper', of course, is a military engineer and when one thinks of the trenches of WWI and the quantity of woodwork utilised in their construction it is obvious why a Carpenter would be directed into such service.

I knew that he was born on the 7th of April 1884 but didn't know that he was a Carpenter, nor that he had served for 3 months with the 'Rossshire Artillery Stornoway', the Artillery Reserve whose training ground gave 'Battery Point' in the town its name.

When Donald signed the document on the 20th of March 1915 he was in Winnipeg, Manitoba. According to the entry in Lewismen in Canadian service his last address in Stornoway had been 64 Keith Street. In 1901 the 17 year-old Scholar was in Mackae's Buildings, Plantation St, Stornoway and before that, in 1891, at 13 Church Street, Stornoway.

Donald was the eldest child of Alexander John Kerr and Margaret Macarthur and his cousin Alex Macarthur fell at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Donald, as far as I am aware, died in Stornoway in 1935 at the age of 51 which is one reason why I never suspected that he had ever left Lewis, let-alone served with the Canadians during World War I.

Some 15 years after Donald signed that Attestation Paper in Winnipeg, his cousin John's daughter (my Aunt) emigrated to Canada. She and her husband left Aberdeen for him to take-up a post as Assistant Professor of Chemistry at one of the Universities in that vast country. As it happens, it was the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg...

Update: Thanks to the contributor whose comment appears below, I can now order Donald's record from Ottowa but meanwhile am reading the Diary of the Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Corps here .
A couple of extracts:
July 8 1916 Bergue - HRH The Prince of Wales had tea in No 2 Coy's mess
July 9 1916 Bergue - In a.m. party attended Sports Troop of 2nd Army Supply Column at le NIEPPE. Tug-of-war finals won by Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Corps.
(The Prince of Wales war service is described here )
A painting of the work of the CORCC in the Senate of Canada's Parliament Building - http://www.voiceseducation.org/category/tag/railway-construction-france-leonard-richmond

Update 2: Apparently the CORCC began with 540 volunteers from the Canadian Pacific Railway in early 1915. Collectively the Canadian Railway Troops laid in excess of 2,500 miles of track during the war.

The remains of what I presume to have been the Sidings at Wippenhoek ?

Update 3: When Donald died on the 14th of December 1935 at 10 Bayhead, Stornoway his occupation was given as 'Building Contractor' providing more credence to my suggestion that he played a hand in the construction on the Lewis War Memorial .

Update 4: Alexander McArthur, son of Isabella McArthur, of 48 Lewis St, Storonoway, Ross-shire, and the late Alexander McArthur. Able Seaman Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (Clyde Z/3622). Killed, aged 26, whilst serving aboard HMS Defence at the Battle of Jutland (North Sea) 31/05/16. Commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Source: CWGC Casualty Details data base.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Lewis Mural, Stornoway


This mural in Stornoway is a familiar landmark in the town.

The story of the work and of the artist, Iain Brady, who created it can be read in this PDF document .

Iain Brady's site, with images of many of his works, is here .

"tolsta Peats"...

...was the Address recorded for 62 people from 11 families on the the night of 31st March/ 1st April 1901.

This small group from Tolsta in the Parish of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis represent about 9% of the settlement's population. They ranged in age from 63-year-old George Macelod down to the 3-month-olds Christina Macelod and Donald Macleod.
I presume this group were engaged on an extended excursion of communal peat-cutting and, if this proves correct, they are uniquely recorded in the census records whilst doing so.

Update: I've been contacted by the NTHS (see below) informing me that 'Peats' is an area in the village where some people built their houses and hence these 62 were not cutting peats at the time of the census!
I am extremely grateful to the gentleman who emailed with this clarification. What remains unusual about the entries is that the Enumerator put the addresses in quotation marks and with a lower-case 't' - "tolsta Peats".

The North Tolsta Historical Society has a site that includes these http://www.tolsta.info/quickfacts.htm

SS Oronsay in 1901

This Glasgow-registered ship (ON 111292) was 'Off Sunk Lightship, River Thames' on the night of the census. 49 year-old Captain Alexander Ellis from Kincardine, Fife and his crew were engaged upon 'Foreign Trade' and this Western Steam Ship Company vessel's presence is mentioned here .
One member of that crew was 26 year-old George Mackinnon from Harris. He was the son of Mary, a Webmaker (Tweed), of 3 Leachin, perhaps a mile along the road out of West Tarbert towards Lewis.

View along West Loch Tarbert from Leachin

There are two later 'Oronsay' ships listed here and the fact that the earlier of these two was built in 1925 leads me to wonder if the 1900-built one had already been lost? I can find no record of the Western Steam Ship Company, either.

Mckinnons of Harris in Walsall

One of the rare instances I can find of Hearachs living in England and identifying the Isle of Harris as their place of birth are the four Mckinnon brothers in 1891. Headed by Draper John (29) are Draper's Assistants Alex (23), Donald (21) and Norman (22) plus their Dumfriess-shire born Housekeeper, Jessie Haining (27) of 51 Lower Hall Lane, Walsall, Staffordshire.
The best-fit I can see from 1881 is the family of Malcolm Mckinnon, Carpenter of Boats, in South Harris ED3.
His sons are John (20), Alexander (13), Donald (11) and Norman (4). He and his wife, Mary, have three further sons and a daughter but it is these four who I believe became the Drapers in England a decade later.

I think that by 1901 the brothers had gone their separate ways and a Draper, John Mckinnon (38) from Harris is found at 13 Princes Street, Glasgow with his wife and infant son. With them is John's brother, Peter (23), who is now a Draper's Assistant but who back in 1881 was the youngest of the eight Mckinnon children in the family of the Boat Carpenter on Harris.

Note: I believe the other three brothers remained in England but that's for another day...

Update! 1901 Censuses:
Alexander Mckinnon, 30, Draper's Assistant, 13 Cradock St, Swansea, Wales, b. Scotland
(Not England, but Wales!)
Norman Mckinnon, 23, Draper's Assistant, 82 Castlegate, Malton, Yorkshire, b. Scotland
Norman was a little harder to locate (he was 13, not 23 in 1891?)

I cannot be completely certain that these are the correct people, but they are remarkable coincidences if that is not the case. Of Donald, I can currently find no trace...

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Guano Factory of Stornoway

In 1901 are to be found these two men in Stornoway:

Alexander Maclennan, 60, Guano Factory Labourer, 15 Coll, b. Stornoway
John Mackenzie, 56, Labourer in Guano Factory, 29b Lower Sandwick St, b. Stornoway

I am pretty sure that the word IS 'Guano' rather than being 'Gas' or 'Gut' which (along with 'Oil) are the only other instances of the word 'Factory' that appear in this census for the town. There are less than a dozen Guano workers to  be found in the whole of Scotland between 1841-1901 so these two are pretty special.

I understand the term 'Guano' to refer not only to the excrement of sea birds, bats and seals but also to manure made from fish and whales. It seems entirely possible that the Guano was produced at the 'Gut' Factory but if anyone has any further information regarding the Guano Factory of Stornoway then please do contact me.

Royal Naval Reserve at Drill - Stornoway 1901

The Royal Naval Reserve was formed in 1859 and an introduction may be read here.
The censuses reveal a scattering of Scottish individuals across place and time but by far the largest congregation is found in Stornoway in 1901 where we find these 37 men who were recorded as members of the 'R N Reserve at Drill':

All the men were Boarding apart from the three Mcdonalds at 22 Point St who were at their sister Ann Campbell's Lodging House.

POINT ST
John Gillies, 28, Fisherman, 2 (North Side), b. Barvas
Alex Mackenzie, 25, Fisherman, 2, b. Stornoway
Don Mcleod, 21, Fisherman, 2, b. Barvas

Don Mackenzie, 18, Fisherman, 7, b. Stornoway
James Mackenzie, 21, Fisherman, 7(South Side), b. Stornoway

Farqhuar Mackinnon, 21, Fisherman, 15, b. Lochs
Roderick Mcleod, 48, Fisherman, 15, b. Lochs

Murdo Mcdonald, 30, Fisherman, 20, b. Stornoway
Roderick Mackenzie, 32, Fisherman, 20, b. Stornoway
John Mackenzie, 20, Fisherman, 20, b. Lochs
Alex Mackinnon, 22, Fisherman, 20, b. Lochs


John Mcdonald, 56, Fisherman, 22, b. Stornoway
John Mcdonald, 36, Fisherman, 22, b. Stornoway
Don Mcdonald, 29, Fisherman, 22, b. Stornoway
Norman Smith, 20, Fisherman, 22, b. Stornoway


Ken Macaulay, 20, Fisherman, 40a, b. Lochs

John Campbell, 20, Fisherman,40c, b. Stornoway
Alex Mackenzie, 20, Fisherman, 40c, b. Lochs
Alex Mciver, 20, Fisherman, 40c, b. Lochs
Murdo Mcleod, 23, Fisherman, 40c, b. Lochs
Malcolm Mcleod, 20, Fisherman, 40c, b. Lochs
Philip Smith, 20, Fisherman, 40c, b. Lochs

John Mclean, 35, Fisherman, 44, b. Lochs
Angus Mclean, 30, Fisherman, 44, b. Uig
Murdo Mcleod, Fisherman, 44, b. Uig
Robert Mcleod, 26, Fisherman, 44, b. Lochs
Kenneth Mcleod, 44, Fisherman, 44, b. Lochs
Mudo Mcleod, 21, Fisherman, 44, b. Stornoway
Neil Smith, 33, Fisherman, 44, b. Lochs

SOUTH BEACH ST
Murdo Mckay, 21, Fisherman, 30, b. Uig
Donald Mcelod, 20, Fisherman, 30, b. Uig
John Mcleod, 20, Fisherman, 30, b. Uig
Angus Smith, 26, Fisherman, 30, b. Barvas

Colin Mcleod, 36, Fisherman, 37, b. Lochs
Murdo Mcleod, 34, Fisherman, 37, b. Lochs
Murdo Mcleod, 34, Fisherman, 37, b. Lochs
Malcolm Macleod, 30, Fisherman, 37, b. Lochs

It is perhaps worth noting that 18, or virtually half, of these men were from Lochs, 11 from Stornoway, 5 from Uig and 3 from Barvas.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Students of Divinity and Theology from Harris

These four sons of Harris who appear in the censuses are listed according to the time that they were studying:

1861
Kenneth Kerr, 29, Student of Divinity, Visitor, Daill House, Craignish, Argyll, b. Harris
Kenneth's father, Peter Kerr, was a Dry Mason from Harris who took his family to Argyll sometime between 1851 and 1861. He was visiting his sister, Mary who was a Nurse at Daill House, the home of the MacDougall of Lunga family. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craignish

A E Murray McConnochie, 23, Student of Divinity, Visitor, 25 Forth St, Edinburgh, b. Harris
Alexander's father, Donald, was a Minister who I think was living in Knockandoo in 1841 but presumably had been living in Harris in the mid-1830s.

1891
John Kerr, 32, Student in Theology, Boarder, 479 St Vincent St, Glasgow, b. Harris
John's father, Roderick, was a Carpenter and I have already written extensively about them:
Adele and the 'Ayatollah' & Borve & A 1923 Wedding on Harris

1901
John Macaskill, 32, Student of Divinity U F Church, Visitor, Manse, North Uist, b. Harris
John's father, Roderick, was a Fisherman (IF John is the 1891 Teacher of that name) and, if so,  John may well have been born on Taransay.

Obviously these are just those students whose period of study happened to coincide with the census snapshots and the Harris-born Ministers that I have found in the censuses comprise:

John Bethune b. 1793
Duncan Clarke b. 1833 - son of Robert Clark, Doctor, living in Scarista in 1841
A E Murray McConnochie b. 1839 - possibly son of Robert, a Farmer in Banff by 1841
Ewan Mcleod b. 1848 - Son of a Farmer of Manish, poss Angus McLeod
Patrick William Mackenzie b. 1842 on St Kilda - Son of Neil Mackenzie, Minister
John Macleod b. 1848
Archibald Macdonald b. 1854/8
Don J M Jones b. 1869
John Kerr b. 1865 - Son of Roderick, a Carpenter, please see above.

None of these nine men were Ministers in Harris during the period 1841-1901 and the only one who I know to have returned to work on the island was John Kerr.

Johan Morison, Agent for Harris Tweed

In the 1891 census we find the Morison family of No 10 East Tarbert headed by the 80 year-old Spinner (Wool) Mary Morison. Her daughter Mary (47) is a Sewing Mistress and her second daughter, Christina (38), a Domestic Servant.
However, it is her youngest daughter, 36 year-old Johan, who grabs our attention for she, uniquely in the census returns of 1841-1901, is an Agent for Harris Tweed.

Interestingly, by 1901 the three maiden Morrison sisters, Mary (60) , Margaret (57) and Johanna (46) ,are each listed as a 'Homespun Woollen Manufacturer' of No 30 North Harris.
Incidentally, Johanna appears to have been particularly adept at constructing identifiable occupational titles for in the censuses there is but one other instance of someone combining those same three words!

(The other three occupants of No 10 in 1891 were Malcolm Morison (31), a Boarder and Baker, Mary K Mckinnon (16), a Grand-Daughter & Domestic Servant and finally Mary Buchanan (50) who was a Niece and Weaveress (Formerly)).

Note: I have used 'Johan' in the title of this piece because ScotlandsPeople returns her 1891 record as such - I think that the Johanna Morrison who died in Harris in 1910 at the age of 56 is the same lady.

Alexander MacRa ('Fear Huisinis') of Harris

Looking at the census records to find the Farmer of 'Huisinish House' (Caola Stiadair/Kyles Lodge) we see the following:

1841 – Island of Ensay
Alexander MacRa, 50, Farmer
Alexander MacRa, 20, Ag Lab
William Macaskill, 25, Ag Lab
Margaret MacRa, 25, Housekeeper
Mary MacRa, 15, Female Servent
Christian MacRa, 20, Female Servant
Isabella Fraser, 20,
Mary Mackenzie, 15,
Tilla Maarteld(?), 15, Ag Lab
Martin Maarteld, 12, Ag Lab
Alexander MacRa, 55, Sailor(?Tailor?)

1851Nishishee
Alexander MacRa, 63, Farmer Employing 21 Men, b. Glenshiel, Ross-shire
Margaret MacRa, 37, Wife, b. Lochalsh, Ross-shire
Jessie MacRa, 7, Daughter, b. Harris
Isabella MacRa, 5, Daughter, b. Harris
Archibald MacRa, 3, Son, b. Harris
John MacRa, 1, Son, b. Harris
Cathi Maclennon, 27, Dairy Maid, b. Lochalsh, Ross-shire
Jean Mackenzie, 25, Nurse, b. Kilmorack, Ross-shire
Effie Morrison, 20, House Servant, b. Harris
Stanley MacRa, 18, Scholar, b. Portree
Ewan Maclennon, 31, Farm Servant, b. Glenshiel, Ross-shire
Margaret Maclennon, 11, House Servant, b. Harris
Mary Macdonald, 55, Spinning Wife, Visitor, b. Harris
Finlay Macdonald, 38, Visitor, b. Kintail, Ross-shire

1861 Not found


1871 – ED 4 Kintulavig
Alexander MacRa, 83, Farmer, b. Glenshiel, Ross-shire
Margaret MacRa, 47, Wife, b. Lochalsh, Ross-shire
Archibald MacRa, 23, Son, b. Harris
Jessie MacRa, 25, Daughter, b. Harris
Lachlin Macdonald, 22, Farm Servant, b. Harris
Christina Campbell, 33, Seamstress, b. Harris
Anne Morrison, 28, Dairymaid, Visitor, b. Harris
Catherine McRae, 70, Calety(?) Cook, b. Lochalsh, Ross-shire
Anne Macdonald, 18, Cook, b. Harris
Bella Macrae, 14, Table Maid, b. Harris
William Sutherland, 27, Cately Teacher, Visitor, b. Kildonan, Sutherlandshire

MacRa farmed extensively in the Western Isles but made Kyles Lodge his home from 1820 until his death in 1874. What I hadn't appreciated was that his wife was apparently some 26-36 years his junior!

Sheriff William Ivory, Sheriff Principal of Inverness-shire, & Harris

There is a collection of the Sheriff's correspondence from September 1886 held by the NAS (GD1/36/1/42).
One item is described as:
'dispute with crofters concerning a march wall erected by Lord Dunmore at Luskintyre, Harris'.
This was a busy time for the Sheriff, who's effigy had been burnt (pdf)  in Portree, Skye by crofters during the previous year, and the bulk of the correspondence apparently is with regard to an expedition of police and marines to serve writs on crofters in Portree.

I have not yet read the correspondence, but the fact that there was a dispute at this time (three months following the passing of the 1st Crofters' Act (pdf) and seven since the death of the Countess of Dunmore) between the 7th Earl and the crofters sufficient to attract the attention of the Sheriff Principal of Inverness-shire is of interest.

Update: Am Baile has made available online several papers of the Sheriff's, including this one.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Steamboat Agents of Stornoway

Here are those in the 1841-1901 censuses working as Steamboat Agents in the town:

1851
James Gair, 46, Steam Boat Agent, Point Street, b. Tain, Ross
John Cameron, 18, Clerk to Steam Boat Agent, Point Street, b. Greenock

1861
Daniel Macalister, 37, Steam Packet Agent, 10 Francis Street, b. Dunvegan, Inverness-shire

1871
Daniel Mcalister, 46, Steamer Agent, 18 Francis Street, b. Duirinish, Inverness-shire

1881
John Harrold, 35, Steamboat Agent, 6 Point Street, b. Wick
Archibald Munro, 32, Steamboat Agent, 30 Keith Street Main Door, b. Stornoway

1891
John Harrold, 45, Steamboat Agent & C, 55 Cromwell Street, b. Wick

1901
John Harrold, 55, Steamer Agent, Clydesdale, 10 mls S of Stornoway, b. Wick

Two observations spring to mind:
Firstly, Archibald Munro's address in 1881 reminds us that many houses were in multiple occupancy in the town, a situation the continued well into the 20thC and
Secondly,  finding Steamer Agent John Harrold aboard the steam ship 'Clydesdale' in 1901 is an unexpected delight, especially as the seaman John Macleod had served on this very vessel immediately prior to joining my relatives ketch the Crest on the 20th of October 1896. Another minor coincidence!

Update: I believe this record of 13th January 1905 to be that of the loss of the Clydesdale when she was carrying mail from Oban to Barra. The record has her as a 20thC steamship but I think it more likely that she was the 1862-built vessel that John Harrold had been aboard some 4 years earlier.

Steamboat Agents of Harris

Here are the four men recorded in the 1841-1901 censuses as Steamboat Agents:

1861
Murdoch Ferguson, 38, Oab, b. Harris

1871
Angus McInnis, 36, West Tarbert, b. Harris

1881
Angus Macinnes, 40, West Tarbert 47, b. Harris
William Stewart, 21, Strond, b. Harris

1891
Angus Mcinnes, 50, No 33 East Tarbert, b. Harris

1901
Angus Macinnes, 60, No 56 North Harris, b. Harris
(Malcolm Mackinnon, 32, Visitor, 1 North Harris, b. Harris)

I have previously mentioned that it was Sir E Scott who was responsible for the SS Dunara Castle visiting Harris, as seen in the 1881-1901 censuses, and the fact that the original site of the ferry was near Kyles House just to the North-West of An-t-ob.

I think it is safe to assume that Angus Macinnes was the Agent dealing with the North Harris Estate's utilisation of steamers whilst Murdoch Ferguson and William Stewart were most-likely working with the company(ies) running ferries to Harris, but if anyone can provide further clarification on either assumption that would be most gratefully appreciated.

1871 Plan of Harris

Unfortunately this is not available online but I considered it's existence worth noting:
http://www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/search_item/index.php?service=NAS&id=RHP46258

It was made by James Wyld of London for the 30 year-old 7th Earl of Dunmore.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Countess of Dunmore's Letter to Rev N McLeod, Free Kirk Minister, N Uist

Savernake Forest, Marlborough, 16 March 1847


Dear Sir,
I Have duly received your letter of January 27th, again requesting from me the grant of a site for a church, &c. in the Harris, and stating that after conversation with the leading members of the Free Church there, Finsbay is the locality to which you and they give preference. It is, and ever will be a principal object with me, while granting full liberty of conscience, and indeed giving effect to that principle, that nothing should be done under my authority, whereby the social quiet of the Harris could by possibility be disturbed, and especially in matters of religion. Such a result might arise from the - in the Harris most unnecessary - near neighbourhood of the sites of the Established and Free Churches ; and I am happy to say that Finsbay is not open to that serious objection. I trust it will be gratifying to you and the Free Church body generally, to be informed that I will lose no time in communicating with Captain Sitwell, agent and commissioner for my son's estates, and through him with Captain M'Donald, factor in Harris, in order to the selection and appropriation of a site in the situation which you have proposed. I need scarcely add, that in reading this letter and preceding ones to those whom they concern, I have to request them and you to consider them as private communications.
I remain, &c.
(signed) C. Dunmore.

This letter was written three weeks after the one that can be read in my previous piece here . The key phrase that the Countess uses is 'nothing should be done under my authority, whereby the social quiet of the Harris could by possibility be disturbed, and especially in matters of religion' for it reveals the complexity of the situation she faced. Hence, with the Established Church sitting in the fertile, depopulated West on the coast at Scarista she was no doubt only too happy to finally acquiesce to the request for a Free Church now that Finsbay in the overpopulated Bays of the rocky, infertile East was the suggested site. The Free Church may have won the battle to have somewhere to preach within but the 'establishment', both spiritual and temporal, remained firmly in control.

As an aside, Savernake Forest is owned by the current Earl of Cardigan and in 1861we find Charles A Murray, 7th Earl of Dunmore, living at 17 Carlton House Terrace which, in 1836, had been home to the then Earl of Cardigan . However, this appears to be coincidental for, in 1847, the family at Savernake were distant cousins of the then Earl and only inherited the title upon his death in 1868, some five years after the Dunmore's had vacated the London property.

Update: NAS Ref CS228/D/11/17 contains documents showing that one of the Trustees appointed by the 6th Earl of Dunmore was George, Marquis of Ailesbury. His home, in 1847, was Savernake Forest which explains why that is the address on this letter from the Countess of Dunmore.

Ref: A transcript of the letter can be read here: Countess of Dunmore's Letter

Captain Sitwell and Harris

In his second appearance before the Napier commission, Kenneth Macdonald the Factor for North Harris makes reference to Captain Sitwell and the decision to resettle Borve in the late 1840s. The question arises as to who this Captain Sitwell was. There are two possible candidates that I have discovered thus far:

William Hurt Sitwell (10 September 1803-17 January 1865) of Barmoor Castle, Northumberland, England.
The 1841 census has him as Army Half-Pay at home in Northumberland and that of 1851 shows the Retired Army Major  at Cathcart House in Renfrewshire, Scotland. his maternal grandfather was Sir Illay Campbell of Succoth whose roles included Solicitor-General of Scotland and then 19 years as President of the Court of Session.

George Frederick Sitwell (7 July 1828-1884) He was son of the 2nd Baronet of Renishaw in Derbyshire
The 1861 census has the Late Captain 3rd Light Dragoons at Catthorpe in Leicestershire and that of 1871 shows the Major Indian Army Retired in Belgravia, London.

I think it is clear that William Hurt Sitwell appears the more likely of the two. Kenneth Macdonald, whose evidence displays an arrogance bordering upon, no, displaying complete contempt for the Captain, states that 'That was during Lord Dunmore's minority'. This is a clear reminder that the Captain's idea to experiment with  resettlement took place before the 7th Earl of Dunmore reached the age of majority and contains the implicit suggestion that such a thing would never have been countenanced by the Earl. Was Captain Sitwell acting in some legal capacity on behalf of the Countess of Dunmore who was looking-after her son's estate at the time?

I hope to be able to discover more about Captain Sitwell, not least because the tone of Kenneth Macdonald's evidence indicates that the good Captain made things a little less comfortable than they might have been for that particular man in the middle of the 19thC!

Update: I have found references to communications between Captain Sitwell in his role as 'commissioner for the tutor' indicating that he was indeed employed by the Countess of Dunmore (her son's 'tutor' at the time) and the Lord Advocate dated 1st September 1846. These relate to letters from John Robson Macdonald, the Factor of Harris, to the Countess and Captain Sitwell 'regarding the failure of the potato crop, and the consequent destitution of the inhabitants'. This series confirms my earlier guess that the Captain performed such a role but it also is evidence that, despite all the negative aspects of the Factor (not least his role in Clearances) he was sufficiently concerned to write to the Countess '...begging that 800 bolls of barley be sent immediately to Harris...' which displays another, altogether more humanitarian, side to his character.

The letters can be found in 'Correspondence From July, 1846 to February, 1847, Relating to the Measures Adopted for the Relief of the Distress in Scotland' 1847, W Clowes & Son, London for Her Majesty's Stationery Office.


Captain Sitwell refers to the factor as 'Captain Macdonald' which is the first time I have seen John Robson Macdonald addressed in this manner. Whether it is an error or not on the part of Captain Sitwell  is uncertain but Macdonald doesn't use it himself so, unless he held that office in the Reserves at some time and hence his fellow ex-serviceman felt it proper to recognise the fact, I have no reason to believe that he was a Captain.

(Interestingly, in a letter of the 16th of March 1847 relating to the building of a Free Church at Finsbay, the Countess herself refers to John Robson Macdonald as 'Captain McDonald' so maybe he did indeed serve in the forces? The letter is an interesting source in itself, of which more, perhaps, later...)

Ref: http://thepeerage.com/index.htm

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Harris 1851 Enumeration District 5

This district is separated from No 4 by the line drawn from the South end of Loch Langavat to Port Eisgein as described in No 4. The next boundary line is one drawn from the south end of Loch Langavat in a south East direction forming a junction with the march between Finsbay and Borsam at the road - from thence coinciding with said march on to the sea, which bounds the remainder of this district on the South and Southwest onto Port Eisgein.
This district is about 6 miles long by 2 broad being a tract of rocky hills and small valleys. Here at Rodil is the ancient Cathedral of St Clement's: there is also a seat of the Earl of Dunmore.

This account comes from the Header to the 1851 census record of the Factor, John Robson Macdonald's household at 'Rodil' as can be seen here: http://direcleit.blogspot.com/2010/03/rodel-house-occupants.html

The district can be identified quite easily on the current OS 1:50 000 map and comprises the South-Eastern tip of the island. The southern end of Loch Langabhat, the apex of this district,  is the most northerly point whilst the 'march' between Fionnsabhaigh and Boirseam can be seen as a cul-de-sac leading off from the 'Golden Road'. My understanding it that this part of the district down to Rodel House was all within Rodel Farm. There were 140 people in the district in 32 households. 12 of these have the address 'Strond'.

Note: I am in the process of deciphering the description of District 4, but it can be seen reasonably accurately on Bald's 1805 map as the region labelled STROND , with the notable exception that the Eastern boundary in 1851 meets the sea at Port Eisgein, which is further West than was the case at the time of Bald's map.
Occupants of District 4 included the 'Paisley Sisters'. They were two of the 89 people living on the Farm of Strond. The total population of the district 4 was 239. They were living in 44 households, 17 of these on the Farm of Strond.

All this leads me to the inevitable conclusion that a comprehensive set of maps for the districts used in each of the censuses would be of immense genealogical value but it is not a task that I am about to undertake!

Official Numbers 44417-44434

As usual, I am attempting to extract as much information as possible from a source and, in this case, am returning to a list of the Official Numbers , including Port of Registry, allocated to vessels.
This list, in numerical order, starts with a vessel in 1882 and ends with one in 1862, telling us that the numbers were not allocated chronologically. The two highlighted groups are of vessels built in the Isle of Man but why we have a trio, then a gap of one ship, followed by a group of six Manx vessels is a mystery. I am still trying to discover whether batches of numbers were issued to individual locations, or builders, who then used them as they constructed each ship or on some other basis. It's a mystery!

However, the fact that CREST 44427 sits as the single Ramsey-constructed ship amongst a batch built in the South of the Isle of Man might add weight to the idea that she was built by Gibson Macdonald of North Ramsey who are the only Shipbuilders listed in Ramsey at that time. They remain my front-runner in the construction-stakes!

44417 LORD CLYDE 1882 Scarborough 115
44419 PRINCE ALFRED Swansea
44420 AVALANCHE Cork 29
44421 VESPER Douglas 22
44422 ROVER Douglas 40
44423 ATALANTA Douglas 23
44424 FRED Peterhead 16
44425 HARKAWAY Douglas 49
44426 IOLANTHE Douglas 45
44427 CREST Ramsey 47
44428 JUBILEE Douglas 23
44429 BESSY Douglas 24
44430 BESSY Castletown 36
44431 PRINCE ALBERT Aberdeen 258
44434 BON ACCORD 1862 Aberdeen 99

Note: The figure at the end of each entry refers to the Register Tonnage of the vessel.

Friday, 23 July 2010

A Patent or Two from 1862

I've been attempting to discover who the shipbuilder might have been who built the CREST 44427 in Ramsey(?) on the Isle of Man in 1862. (The (?) is there because I've not had a lot of success in discovering reference to ship-building facilities in Ramsey at that time.)

However, and as an aside, I came upon the volume 'Chronological Index for Patents Applied For and Patents Granted in 1862' published by The Patents Office, and a couple of interesting references therein:

p135 - Gibson 9th July 1862 - Thomas Cummings Gibson, of Ramsey, Isle of Man, Ship Builder, for an invention for - 'Improvements in the construction of ships and vessels for the purpose of carrying and wharehousing petroleum, palm oil, and other oils or inflammable fluids.' Provisional protection only

p221 - Defl. Gibson 4th December 1862 - Frederick Daniel Delf, of Liverpool, in the County of Lancaster, Chemist, and Thomas Cummings Gibson, of Ramsey, in the Isle of Man, Gentleman, for an invention for - 'Improved means and apparatus whereby petroleum and other oils and hydro-carbons can be safely carried and stored.' Provisional protection only.

Apparently petroleum was needed for its paraffin content but unscrupulous dealers adulterated it with the more volatile (and, at that time, worthless!) components resulting in many domestic fires. The Petroleum Act 1862 was designed to reduce these events, describing any liquid with a flash-point below 100 degrees Celsius as flammable. The timing of this Act with the granting of these Patents cannot be entirely coincidental?

I have been unable to discover any more information regarding the Ship Builder/Gentleman, the Chemist nor the details of their inventions...

Note: Gibson MacDonald & Co., North Ramsey  appear as the only Ramsey Ship Builders in Thwaite's 1863 Directory so, if the CREST was indeed built in Ramsey, she would appear to have been one of their vessels. The first-ever oil-tanker, 'The Jane', was built there in 1865.

Update: The 1861 census shows 60 year-old Thomas C Gibson from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne living in Bride on the Isle of Man. His occupation is 'Manufacturer of cement and artificial manures(?) and Ship (something!)'. A wonderful description of Ramsey in the 1860s that I have just found can be read here and one of the vessels here . I am still not convinced that the 47 ton Crest was one of theirs, but you never know!

From a friend...

John Macdonald, who was born and raised on Harris, sent me this reminiscence relating to footwear on the island and I am extremely grateful to him for allowing me to publish it here:


Having read your recent piece on the diminishing number of cobblers in Stornoway I couldn't help but recall that in my younger days in Harris there was rarely a house that did not have a shoe-last in their "tool box".  I suspect that a lot of people used to repair their own footwear in days gone by as the repair would often comprise replacing the prominent array of steel tacks and steel protective edges or trims that were always applied to the heels and toecaps of men's boots.  I do recollect that at night time, if you were following someone along the road on a dark night, and particuarly if the road surface was of a granite chip finish, one could actually see the sparks flying from the walker's boots quite clearly!!

If one lived remote from Stornoway, as my own parents did living in Harris, people very often bought their footwear from catalogues received through the post.  A T Hoggs was a family favourite supplier of footwear and as I recollect they were based in Fife.  I think my parents found this method of 
obtaining footwear as convenient (or more convenient) as making a trip up to Stornoway by bus and having to spend the whole day there.

In those days nothing went to waste and I have seen timber gates fitted with leather hinges.  These hinges were invariably the tongue of an old boot trimmed to size and applied as a hinge.  I think what struck me most was it worked remarkably well. 

As they say - necessity is often the mother of invention!!!

An Old Parish Register Marriage...

from the Parish of Lochs, Lewis.

25th February 1840 - John Montgomery residing at Shildinish to Anne Kerr residing at Shildinish.

The 1841 census records 47 people in Shildinish including these 3 households:
John Montgomery, 25 & Anne Montgomery, 25
Murdo Keir, 65 & Mary Keir, 65
Murdo Montgomery, 60 & Margaret Montgomery, 50 with their 5 children

By 1851 a John Montgomery, wife Anne & 4 children are found in Ranish, Lochs where we see them still in 1861. In 1871 & 1881 they appear in Lemreway and in 1891 the widowed Anne is at 18 Lemreway.

I cannot find her after this and neither can I find the death of an Anne Montgomery who's maiden name was Kerr/Keir/Carr . This is unfortunate for without it I cannot discover who her parents were. There is, intriguingly, the death in 1870 of a 57 year-old Ann Montgomery in Lochs who's other name was Carr but that cannot be the same Ann unless John replaced one Ann with a second one within a year, which the marriage records do not support! However, I shall in time investigate this other lady for Carr/Kerr/Keir are unusual names in the isles and any such appearance is worth exploring.

If Ann's parents were Murdo Keir and his wife, Mary, then I cannot locate their deaths (presumably pre-1851 for they do not appear in that census) either.

Thus, I do not know if Anne Kerr who married John Montgomery is a relative or not, but her marriage is the earliest record of the name Kerr that I've found on Lewis and that, together with my family's connections with this particular area of Lochs, influenced my decision to compose this wee piece.

John Montgomery, by the way,  was one of those who turned to the sea to make a living as a Fisherman.

Update: I was wandering through some old searches that I'd conducted on ScotlandsPeople and, lo & behold, some years ago I'd looked at (but not noted because it wasn't the person I was seeking at that time) the 1870 Death of an Ann Carr. Looking at that record now, it is indeed the death of Ann Montgomery, wife of the Crofter John Montgomery in Balallan, Lochs. Her parents are shown as Murdo Carr and Mary McIver (her maiden-name is unclear, but McIver's the 'best-fit').  Therefore, the Murdo & Mary Keir of 1841 were indeed her parents so I now need to check the children in the censuses of 1851 onwards to ensure that I have correctly identified this family (I have put in bold individuals who appear to be the same person in different censuses and in italics those who could well be the same person but using another of their names)

1851 - Ranish
John, 34, Farmer of 3 acres & Fisher
Ann, 34
John, 7
Sophia, 5
Isabella, 3
Murdo, 6 months

1861 - Ranish
John, 49, Crofter
Anne, 46
Flora, 20
John, 12
Donald, 8
Murdo, 5

1871 - Lemreway
John, 54, Fisherman
Ann, 54
John, 27
Isabella, 22
Murdo, 20
Catherine, 17
Angus, 15
Robert, 10
Donald, 8

1881 - Lemreway
John, 60
Anne, 60
Murdo, 27
Angus, 23
Robert, 21
Donald, 17


I think that there is plenty of evidence here that this is the same family, but is it that of John Montgomery and Ann(e) Carr/Keir? There are no other Ann(e) Montgomerys of her generation in Lochs in the 1861 census. The other two ladies are married to spouses whose ages eliminate a transcription error. Therefore it appears as if, swiftly following the death of Ann Carr on the 7th of March 1870, John Montgomery did indeed relace her with another lady called Ann(e). however, as I mentioned earlier, there is no record of such a marriage taking place. In fact there is no such marriage in the whole of Ross & Cromarty until 1899!

I have checked and double-checked the Montgomery families in Lochs and the whole of Ross & Cromarty (I do have an interest in that I am descended from a tailor of that name from Leurbost in Lochs) and cannot see any alternative to the slightly odd conclusion that after the unknown cause of his wife's death after a week's illness, John Montgomery found a new companion of the same name and age. It is not odd that a widower, or a widow, should do so but the lack of a recorded marriage is certainly outside the norm of my genealogical studies.

Finally, if anyone can spot a flaw in my logic then I'd love to hear from you! Meantime, I wonder where Murdo Keir/Carr came from for, with an estimated birth date of 1776, only Chersty Kerr the 1761-born Hand Loom Weaver of Taransay is an earlier Kerr/Keir/Carr recorded in the censuses of Lewis & Harris!



Thursday, 22 July 2010

BAYSWATER 82775

'Vessel missing since 16.3.90'...
When I first saw this other record on a page containing the death of a fisherman from Harris who I was researching I initially ignored it but I've just returned to the page and decided to delve a little deeper.
23 year-old fireman J. Robertson's Nationality is given as Leith.
I have noticed that most deaths at sea specify the person's Nationality like this which surely cannot be coincidental but perhaps a reflection of the especial importance to seafaring people of their place on land?
He was aboard this ship which, according to the list at http://www.mariners-l.co.uk/IBON80,000-84,999.htm was built in 1880, registered in London and was of 1623 Gross Register Tonnage making her a steamship (he was a Fireman) of some size.
J Robertson's 'Last Place of Abode' is left blank, presumably unknown, as is the place where he and his crewmates all perished...

Tobar an Dualchais

This 'Kist o Riches' is a wonderful searchable database of recordings.
It is currently a test version so I recommend having a play with it and if you have any feedback for the developers you can easily submit it to them. http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/

Enjoy!

Shoemakers of Stornoway

A correspondent has kindly brought to my attention that I hadn't looked at those practising the craft of Shoemaker in Stornoway. An initial search has produced the following numbers of shoemakers in each census:

1841 67
1851 103 (65 Heading households, 63%)
1861 70 (50 Heading households, 71%)
1871 80 (52 Heading households, 65%)
1881 64 (47 Heading households, 73%)
1891 46 (31 Heading households, 67%)
1901 40 (28 Heading households, 70%)

Firstly, we see an overall pattern of reduction in the number of shoemakers which appears counter-inuitive to the town's growth during this period. In the 50 years 1851-1901 the population of the Parish of Stornoway grew from about 8,500 to 14,500 people which gives an impression of the rate of expansion.

I decided to add the second figure to show the number of households where the 'Head' had the occupation of Shoemaker to see if it might supply any useful information. I was surprised to see that, ranging from 63%-73%, the ratio remained remarkably consistent at roughly two-thirds of the total. This gives me extra confidence that the decline in numbers is fairly accurately displayed by the figures. If we bear in mind that the 1841 census often only recorded the occupation of the Head of the household (with a scattering of some of the other occupants) then the figure of 67 shoemakers in that year can be taken a s a good approximation to the number of households headed by a shoemaker.

Taking this figure, we see the pattern 67,65,50,52,47,31,28 for these shoemaking Heads of household.

What led to this accelerating decline at a time when the number of pairs of feet in need of shodding was increasing? It possibly reflects changes in the overall economic life of the Parish, with more emphasis on the town itself as the place where goods were exchanged and hence with a move from local providers (the 'corner cobbler'!) to more centralised shops. This, perhaps accompanied by competition from imports, would lead to an inevitable decline in those able to compete to provide shoes and hence the halving in the numbers during this 60-year period.
This is pure conjecture, there would no doubt be other factors at play, but it seems to me that this particular occupational group is providing us with potentially useful and interesting insights into urban growth and change in Stornoway in the second-half of the 19thC and I am extremely grateful to the correspondent for bringing its neglect on my part to my attention.

Note: Please do contact me regarding this piece (or any other occupations that I should perhaps peruse) for I am, as always, treading on unfamiliar territory here and all assistance is very much appreciated!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Ports Visited by the CREST 1896-1899

Here, in alphabetical order, are the ports listed in the Crew Agreements for the 1862-built Crest during the first four years sailing under her new owner & Master, Alexander John Kerr:

Ayr, Mainland
Belfast, Ireland
Carloway, Lewis
Carrickfergus, Ireland
Castlebay, Barra
Gairloch, Mainland
Larne, Ireland
Loch Eishort, Skye
Lochmaddy, North Uist
Oban, Mainland
Stornoway, Lewis
Tarbert, Harris
Tobermory, Mull
Troon, Mainland
Ullapool, Mainland

Not a huge list, but one that displays the variety of places served by the island men who plied the coastal trade of the West Coast of Scotland at this time.


View CREST 1896-1899 in a larger map

Speyside Landing Net
































Take Me To Your Leader!

An 'alien' in the 'Moonscape' of the Bays of Harris

Struth!

In 1871 one of my relatives was living in 'Struth' on Harris. Enumeration District 6 was described as:

'Obe, Struth, Cregstore and the island of Scareleam, - bounded on the north by a line drawn from the South end of Athdu to the top of Roneval hill: on the east by a line drawn from the top of Roneval hill to the march between Obe and Strond where it touches the sea: and on the west by Struth and the Burn by the Parish School.

Deciphering this description proves quite taxing. The boundary on the East is fairly straightforward for a line can easily be imagined from the summit of Roneval to where the Obe-Strond road meets the sea. Except that it does so in two places, either side of the Carminish peninsular, so it is odd that no reference is made to that obvious landmark. Athdu is presumably Atha Dubh, the river joining Loch na Moracha to Loch Steisebhat. Of Cregstore and, especially, the island of Scareleam I have to confess to being totally flummoxed!

As far as I can tell Struth refers to Aird an t-Struith (Headland of the Stream?) but the only houses seen on the old OS maps lie along shore of The Obe rather than along the headland. There were a group of buildings near Huisinish House (Kyles Lodge/House) but that lies to the North of our boundary.

I am therefore left unable to accurately identify Roderick Kerr's location in 1871. Struth!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

CREST Voyages of 1899

I left my account of the previous year's voyages with the arrival of the Crest in Belfast on the 23rd of January 1899 .

Aboard were her Master, Alexander John Kerr, and his crewmen Donald Macmillan, Malcolm Munro and John Macleod who had joined the ship at Oban following the death of Alexander's father, Malcolm Kerr.

On Feb 1st she sets sail for Larne which she reaches on the 4th. The figures for her draught and freeboard suggest that she was unladen. Having loaded their cargo, the men leave Larne on the 1st of March and arrive in their home port of Stornoway on the 10th. As usual, Alexander John doesn't specify his cargo but lime would be a reasonably likely commodity at this time. The men spend a fortnight at home before the unladen Crest sails for Larne on the 24th of March. She doesn't arrive until the 10th of April but whether this was because of the weather or, perhaps, 'other reasons' is open to conjecture!

Once loaded, they leave Larne on Mayday and reach Gairloch on the West Coast of the Scottish mainland on the 7th of May. They return to Stornoway on the 19th, crossing the Minch on the same day. In Stornoway John Macleod is discharged, Alexander John rating his conduct and ability as 'Vg'. Oddly, the date of John's discharge is shown a week earlier on the 12th of May but I am pretty sure that this is just another instance of the retrospective nature of the form-filling. On the 22nd of May John's replacement appears in the shape of Donald Macdonald, a 43 year-old from Lochs who is a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer's.

The Crest is loaded, perhaps with Herring, and on the 25th she departs Stornoway and arrives in Castlebay on Barra on the 26th of May. Cargo safely delivered, the empty vessel leaves on the 5th of June and makes Larne on the 10th. Loaded, she leaves Larne on the 26th of June and reaches Stornoway on the 29th, suggesting that this 47 ton ketch was no slouch even when loaded to the gunwhales. On the 7th of July Donald Macdonald is discharged with Alexander's inevitable 'Vg's.

I do not know precisely for how many years Alexander John and his father had worked the coastal trade together but these voyages were the first such set that he undertook on a vessel that he owned without his father's presence and it must have been a poignant moment when he completed the Crew Agreements without putting 'Malcolm Kerr' in the first space beneath his own name.

Significantly, none of the seamen of 1899 are given the status of Mate or Bosun that Malcolm held.

On the 12th of July 43 year-old Alexander John and 55 year-old Malcolm Munro are joined by 60 year-old John McRae from Habost in Lochs who joins fron the 'Mary Ann' of Stornoway. The crew is completed by an 18 year-old 'Boy' called Alexander John Maciver from Stornoway. He is the Master's nephew and my own grandfather's Half-Brother. He bears his Uncle's name and would serve in and survive WWI .

The 17th of July see the laden Crest setting sail for Carloway which she makes on the 1st of August. It was whilst making this same journey in January 1890 that Alexander John Kerr had lost the 'Spanker' in the Sound of Harris in the vicinity of An-t-Ob.

There are four more voyages for 1899, in each case the Crest appears unladen, and they were from Carloway to Stornoway on from the 12th to the 13th of August, Stornoway to Portree on the 12th to the 13th of September, from Portree back to Stornoway from the 7th to 8th of October and finally on the 2nd of November from Stornoway to Loch Eshart, reaching there on the 18th of November.
Whilst in Stornoway, John McRae left on the 11th of October but wasn't replaced until the 1st of November when John McDonald, a 48 year-old from Harris, joined the crew. He, together with both the Alexander Johns, stayed with the ship in Loch Exhart but on the 22nd of December Malcolm Munro left them. It is unfortunate that, whilst new crewmen had to give the name of their previous vessel, those departing do not record the next ship (if they had one) so we cannot tell how Malcolm Munro returned to his home in Stornoway.

The Crest 'Remains in Loch Eshart' and, until I purchase the Crew Agreements for 1900-1903 when she was wrecked on the 18th of April 1903 , that is where we shall have to leave her...

View Free Header

If you use http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk to view original records then don't neglect the little blue box towards the top-right of the image screen. After you have clicked on it, you will find subsequent pages accessible from buttons towards the top-left of the image screen.
As an example, the following is to be found from my own family's record from the 1851 Census for Direcleit:

This District lies along the sea coast on the East of Harris. It is 10 miles long and 1 broad. It lies low and consists of deep soft moss bounded by the sea in an irregular circuitous line.
This district is bounded on the East by the Minch. On the North by the line drawn from the West Quay at Tarbert coinciding with the Luskintyre to Donald Rag's House and joining the sea at East Tarbert. The West Boundary is the Main Road from Donald Rag's House to the March between Scadabay and Drinishader which March forms the Southern Boundary of this District.
Enumerator

There is no soil but moss, potatoes and fish used to be the staple commodity but the people now are but poorly off – the major source is the fishing but oft that department of industry does not succeed in success- it is a difficult problem to solve - how to provide for the people.
Minister of Harris April 1851

Note: A few of the words are somewhat indistinct so I make no claim as to the complete accuracy of this transcription but the overall flavour is, I hope, still there.

Parish Maps of Lewis & Harris

An outline map of the four parishes of Lewis can be seen here: http://www.scotlandsfamily.com/parish-map-caithness.htm whilst that of Harris is here: http://www.scotlandsfamily.com/parish-map-inverness.htm .

Maps of Barvas , Stornoway , Lochs , Uig  and Harris from the Gazetteer for Scotland

Enjoy!

Modern Electoral Wards of Lewis & Harris

I had been attempting to find a map to help with navigating around the various divisions of the islands when a friend (Many thanks, MM) pointed-out to me this excellent OS (Ordnance Survey) facility: http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/opendata/viewer/

If you open the viewer, move and zoom into 'OUTER HEBRIDES' at the middle level of zoom, you can then open the 'Boundary Layer' dialogue box. Scrolling down to Scotland and selecting 'Unitary Authority Ward' will then enable you to see those divisions highlighted as you move the cursor around the islands. The name of each Ward, in Gaelic, appears in a box at the bottom right-hand corner of the map.

Now all I want is the same thing for the Old Parishes and the smaller districts within them!

Crewmen of the CREST in the Censuses

I have found good matches to six of the ten men. In all but one case, that of John Macrae, Crofter of Habost, the records indicate that they were seamen. The four missing men do return several matches in terms of names, ages and locations but without the corroboration of occupation it is impossible to identify them.

John Macleod b. 1855 Stornoway RNVC No 9730
1901 (47) Seaman (Merchant Service) 20 Sandwick North Street, Stornoway

Malcolm Munro b. 1844-49 Stornoway
1891 (41) Sea Man 35 South Beach, Stornoway

John Macpherson b. 1852 Stornoway
1881 (26) Seaman and Crofter New Valley, Stornoway
1901 (48) Seaman (Merchant Service) 17 Newvalley, Stornoway

Alexander John Maciver b. 1881 Stornoway
1891 (9) 37 Bayhead Street, Stornoway
1901 (19) Ness House, Stornoway

These first four men I am very confident in having identified accurately but the next two are 'best fits'. The first, aboard ship in Gairloch, actually has two possibilities for there were two men from Lochs with the same name and age who were Master of a vessel in Gairloch at the time. The second, John Macrae, is included somewhat tentatively but because he specified Habost in the Crew Agreement (rather than just Lochs), I felt drawn to including him here. It is surprising how often such feelings are later proved correct, perhaps reminding us that genealogy is a rather intimate human activity rather than a purely 'scientific' exercise?

Donald Macdonald b. 1856 Lochs RNVC No 244
1901 (45) Master Vessels, Gairloch

John Macrae b. 1839 Habost, Lochs
1901 (60) Crofter Habost, Lochs

These men either returned no matches or too many to have any chance of identification. The nature of the life of a seafarer meant that many are not recorded in every census and the lives of many of these men, who were hired and fired at the start and end of voyages, included many occupations in addition to their seafaring role. They could well be in the censuses but hidden behind the words 'Crofter', 'Fisherman', or some other occupation. More likely, they were out at sea, risking their lives in the wild waters around Scotland's coasts...

NOT FOUND
John Macdonald b. 1851 Harris
Murdo Macelod b. 1881 Lochs
Donald Macleod b. 1882 Stornoway
Donald Macmillan b. 1880 Stornoway

Monday, 19 July 2010

Crewmen of the CREST 1896-1899

Here are the men recorded as sailing with Alexander John Kerr aboard his ketch in 1896-1899, excluding his father Malcolm Kerr who was his Mate/Bosun until his death in December 1898. The gaps within each year reflect the fact that the Master of a vessel had to complete the Crew Agreements twice a year. I have highlighted those whom I believe to be the same person despite the variations displayed in the year of birth.

RNVC = Royal Naval Volunteer's Certificate

1896
John Macleod b. 1856 Stornoway RNVC No 9738

1897
John Macleod b. 1838 Stornoway RNVC No 9730 (Clearly the same man, but with confusion between his year of birth and his age, perhaps?)

Malcolm Munro b. 1849 Stornoway
Murdo Macelod b. 1881 Lochs

1898
John Macpherson b. 1850 Stornoway
Donald Macleod b. 1882 Stornoway
Malcolm Munro b. 1844 Stornoway

John Macpherson b. 1854 Stornoway
Donald Macmillan b. 1880 Stornoway
Malcolm Munro b. 1849 Stornoway
John Macleod b. 1854 Stornoway

1899
Malcolm Munro b. 1845 Stornoway
John Macleod b. 1854 Stornoway RNVC No 9730
Donald Macdonald b. 1856 Lochs RNVC No 244

Malcolm Munro b. 1844 Stornoway
John Macrae b. 1839 Habost, Lochs
Alexander John Maciver b. 1881 Stornoway
 (Alexander John Kerr's Nephew and my Grandfather's Half-Brother)
John Macdonald b. 1851 Harris

I intend to discover more about each of these 9 men. It was only when compiling this piece that the penny-dropped regarding Alexander John Maciver, whom I can be pretty sure was named after the Uncle who we find him sailing with here!

If, by any chance, someone reading this recognises a Name/DOB combination as that of a seafaring relative then I'd love to hear from you.

Sheep Fank, Seilebost, Isle of Harris

...complete with original tiled fireplace.

This house, on the shore of Loch Stockinish at Leac a Li, is one of many that were
abandoned following an outbreak of Typhoid towards the end of the 19thC.

Net Workers of Lewis & Harris

These are the only records of people from the censuses of 1841-1901 in all of Lewis & Harris who are listed as working with nets. In each case, the Head of the Household was a Fisherman:

1861
Donald Macdonald, 14, Net Mender, Son, Bayble Road, Stornoway, b. Stornoway
(John Macdonald, 36, Fisherman, b. Stornoway)

1881
Mary Macleod, 28, Net Spinner, Daughter, Fisherman's House, North Harris, b. Harris
(John Macleod, 60, Fisherman, b. Harris)

1891
Malcolm Macaulay, 50, Net Mender, Servant, 21 Portnagman(?), b. Stornoway
(Murdo Campbell, 32, Fisherman, b. Stornoway)

Donald Matheson, 15, Net Mender, Servant, 5 Portoller(?), Stornoway, b. Stornoway
(John Martin, 27, Fisherman, b. Stornoway)

It would appear therefore that net-making was either performed as an integral part of the role of being a Fisher, or that the finished articles were imported. Either way, it surprised me to find no net-makers on these isles.

Bayhead & North Bayhead, South Harris

This is an initial investigation into a pair of addresses that appear on the 1891 and 1901 censuses.

In 1891 each place was home to 5 households whilst by 1901 Bayhead had 5 and North Bayhead 9.
As far as I can ascertain, Bayhead is the place whose site record can be seen on Scotlands Places . It can be seen that there were between 7 and 9 buildings recorded and if you click on the map link you can see the location at Ceann a' Bhaigh, just North of Lingerbay, where today there is this Guest House .

I intend to examine the census records but, for the moment, am unable to locate North Bayhead. I should make it clear that the censuses locate it and Bayhead in the civil Parish of Harris so they are not to be confused with Bayhead on North Uist despite that island being part of the Parish of Harris. If anyone can help, please give me a shout!

I have now examined the Heads of Households:

1891 (10)
NORTH BAYHEAD (5)
Ronald Ferguson, 65, Formerly Crofter, Crofter's House, b. Harris
Donald Ferguson, 36, Crofter, Crofter's House, b. Harris
Mary MacKinnon, 60, Wool Spinner, Private House, b. Harris
Margaret Martin, 65, Wool Spinner, Private House, b. Harris
Neil Morrison, 38, Fisherman, Private House, b. Harris

BAYHEAD (5)
Donald Maclean, 44, Fisherman, b. Harris
John Maclean, 42, Fisherman, b. Harris
Charles Macsween, 81, Crofter, b. Harris
Margaret Morrison, 65, General Servant, b. Harris
Alexander Morrison, 37, Ground Officer, b. Harris

1901 (14)
NORTH BAYHEAD (9)
Ronald Ferguson, 60, Retired Fisherman, Cottar's House, b. Harris
Donald Ferguson, 42, Crofter, Crofter's House, b. Harris
John Ferguson, 34, Fisherman, Fish House, b. Harris
Alex Martin, 36, Fisherman, Fisher house, b. Harris
Angus Martin, 36, Cofter, Crofter's, b. Harris
Murdo Martin, 32, Pupil Teacher, Crofter's House, b. Harris
Mary Mackinnon, 50, Skirt Dressmaker, Private House, b. Harris
Neil Morrison, 47, Crofter, Fish House, b. Harris
Murdo Morrison, 33, Fisherman, Fish House, b. Harris

BAYHEAD (5)
Christy Maclennan, 49, General Servant Domestic, b. Harris
Donald Maclean, 35, Fisherman, b. Harris
Marion Macsween, 37, General Servant Domestic, b. Harris
Margaret Morrison, 80, General Servant Domestic, b. Harris
Alexander Morrison, 46, Ground Officer, b. Harris

It should be mentioned that in 1871 and 1881 the Ground Officer at Lingerbay was John Morrison who's son Alex is shown as a 28 year-old Fisherman in 1881. It seems reasonable to assume that he succeeded his father in the role. In fact the 1871 census is the last to identify Lingerbay as an address and this leads me to conjecture that the Bayhead of 1881-1901 is in fact Lingerbay whilst the North Bayhead of 1881-1901 is the Bayhead as identified on the 1st Edition 6-inch map of 1882. I may be wrong, but the pieces, although somewhat hazy, do appear to create a picture that makes sense!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Immigrant

Her parents wept as the boat set sail, leaving behind the small fertile land at the head of the fjord on its journey to the open sea. They knew she had to go, to make a new life for herself and her man and the swelling that was growing inside her, but that only dulled the edges of the pangs of near-grief that accompanied her departure.

On board, she too was crying as the two specks on the shore diminished in stature before fading from view forever. The men, pulling on their oars, had each made this same journey to the Southern Isles at least once before. That was how it came to be that her man had persuaded her to leave the place of her family and live in the new lands of open space and fertility for plenty. His descriptions of the shell-sand beaches, the bordering strip of bounteous earth, the rugged rocks and the health and vitality of the peoples there had been the stuff of dreams. But they were not dreams they were real and from all over their icy Northlands young couple just like them were emigrating towards these warmer isles.

The wind was in their favour so the men ceased their rowing, shipped the long oars and raised the single sail. She felt the ship come to life beneath her, a gentle kick just like those that her belly had recently been feeling. She ran a hand over the warm roundness and smiled at the thought of the little boy (it was a boy, the wise-woman of the village had assured her) who quite soon would be playing at her feet outside the new house that her man had already built for them. It was, he told her, in a beautiful spot and they had used the best timbers, brought there from the Northland, to construct the roof. She had been astonished to learn of the lack of trees on this paradise and even more astonished when he had explained how not only roofs but also boats were taken there as packs of pre-cut parts that were then reassembled. It seemed an almost impossible idea and she was sure that in time such practices would die-out.

It was not long before the wind carried them to the mouth of the fjord and, for the first time in her nineteen summers, she saw the open sea. It was as if someone had parted the trees in a forest to reveal the space beyond. No longer did the towering cliffs of the fjord blinker the vista but all the ocean lay before her in a dizzying panorama of sparkling blue-green topped by flecks of white and as far as the eye could see. The ship began to rock a little more in response to the currents and waves below but she was determined not to display any weakness to the men. In fact the rocking of the waves, the gentle breeze at her back and the warm morning sun conspired to lull her into a happy sleep.

When she awoke several hours later and looked around she was shocked to see nothing but the ocean around her. The land, as far as she could tell, had dissolved and the whole world was now her, the men and the ship. She felt a slight panic at this new sensation but when she peered more closely to the side she saw the rippling darkness on the horizon. They were certainly far from land but not so far as to have lost sight of it. This, she knew, was the safest way for ships to travel for the waters here were less troubled by the spirits of the sea and by the rocks and shoals that lay nearer to the shore.

The journey South took several days, partly due to the vast distance involved but also because en-route they were to leave two of the men at their own new homes and collect two replacements who, like them were settling in the new isles. This was a common occurrence and the 'leapfrogging' allowed them to combine trade, communication and expansion. She enjoyed seeing the new places and, in one of them, met an older girl from her village who had made the same journey a couple of years earlier. Talking to this happy young mother about living in these new lands was particularly helpful as it convinced her that choosing to join her man in the Southern Isles had been the right decision.

The final leg of the voyage was full of anticipation and, although the sea was particularly rough for a couple of hours, the sight that emerged from the parting storm clouds made any past fears recede. In front of her was a small island and as the ship entered the strip of sea between it and the main island she saw for the first time the seemingly endless beach of pure-white sand, speckled with bright green seaweed and backed by the lush band of crops and the hills beyond. The sun turned the sea into a myriad sparkling mirrors and, as they ship reached the shore, her man put his arm around her waist and said, 'Welcome to Seilibost.'...

Malcolm Kerr 1822-1898

This is my grandfather's grandfather who was born in Direcleit, Harris and died aboard his son's ship in the Horseshoe Sound, Kerrera, Near Oban.

The original is in the possession of my cousin in Stornoway. The frame contains the writing 'Norrie 28 Cross Street, Fraserburgh' and the Fraserburgh Heritage Centre includes a file on William Norrie, Photographer. The 1901 census records the 39 year-old at that address whilst his father, at No 26, is a Picture Frame Maker which occupation he also records in 1891. In 1881 the son was a Cabinet Maker and the father a Merchant Draper. This suggests that the photo was taken after 1881 making Malcolm at least 60 years-old? We know that the picture is of Malcolm because my cousin's father, another grandson of Malcolm's, told her it was him. There appears to be a figure to Malcolm's left and this leads me to conjecture that the photograph was cut to fit the frame to which it was later entrusted. I think it is a wonderful image of a 19thC Seaman whose soulful eyes are as deep and mysterious as the seas he sailed upon...

Cloud-Mountain

I fancied that there was a castle atop this unusual,
and unusually lit, cloud formation on North Uist

North Uist Style?

I'm not entirely sure about this 'traditional' style/gate that appears to be the
marriage of an old palette and some recycled, bolted timber, but it clearly works!

The Majesty Of Nature

Howmore River, South Uist

Illuminated Contemplation

Church of Scotland, Howmore, south Uist

Clansman Casting-Off

Departing Oban bound for Barra

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Time to Reflect - a (pre)cautionary tale

He nearly walked straight past it. The stallholder was already wrapping her smaller items in newspaper and packing them into the collection of gaudily assorted plastic crates and the car-boot sale was due to end in half-an-hour. He stopped to tie his shoelace for the umpteenth time. It is a little known fact that some laces are particularly unsuited to left-handers and, for some no-doubt highly complex reason involving the way the lace is woven and the physics of knotting, they steadfastly refuse to remain fixed fast. It was whilst he knelt (bending down to touch his toes was beyond the reach of his middle-aged back) that he saw it. The mirror itself was perhaps no larger than a normal photographic print but the deep, dark elaborate frame was huge. The wood was crisply carved into a rain-forest of leaves and flowers and fruits that was so overwhelming in its design and execution that the small pool of tarnished mirror appeared almost incidental. He finished tying the lace (it was always the left shoe that came undone) and lifted the mirror onto the now nearly cleared table. The spotting on the mirror was caused by the silvering on its rear surface having deteriorated over time but it added to the charm of the piece and the small size of the mirror rendered its reflecting properties somewhat secondary to the decorative function that the frame performed in heady, intoxicating abundance. As it happens, this style was something that usually wouldn't appeal at all to his taste which was more often attuned towards the Bauhaus, Mackintosh and the generally unflowered form. Nevertheless he found himself enquiring as to the price and the stallholder, one crate short of a cleared trestle, requested twenty English pounds. Normally he would have haggled but instead he handed her the twenty pound note with the words 'Clydesdale Bank' printed proudly across its surfaces, picked up the naked frame and returned to his car.

Car, mirror and man survived the journey home, despite him swearing loudly about 'English pounds' and reminding himself to replenish the stock of Scottish banknotes that he kept especially to antagonise shopkeepers in England who used the phrase. He took the mirror into the house and placed it on a coffee table. The table was one he'd had made by a female friend who was an extremely talented welder and it replicated in metal one of Mackintosh's designs. They had designed it to be a prototype but the complexity of the construction taught them not to take the project any further. The whole room was decorated in similar vein and the effect was all the more surprising for visitors who stepped through the door of a seemingly regular Victorian brick and slate terrace and into a world of very un-English design. He hadn't been too sure until a call from one of the glossy fashion mags offered him a ridiculous amount of money for doing a 'feature' on the 'property' convinced him that it was all in incredibly bad taste or really rather successful. He gave half the money to his kids and the other half to a candidate in the forthcoming local election. The candidate came last but not without being able to ensure that the neighbourhood was bombarded with literature supporting his cause.

This was the house that the mirror and frame found itself inhabiting and it also soon found itself being carefully dusted with a selection of soft paintbrushes. The man was delighted as the layers of dust were removed and the intricacy of the carving became steadily clearer. It was, quite simply, exquisite. The accuracy of the work resembled that of a diamond cutter and what made it so amazing were the plethora of piercings, many of which had been blocked by grime, that gave the frame almost as much surface on the 'inside' as it presented to the world. The back revealed no clues as to age but equally there were no signs of it ever having been removed. The mirror itself, that tiny, almost insignificant rectangle of glass, must be original. A fact that the discolouration amplified in abundance.

There were two metal loops and a piece of elderly, tired cord from which to hang the object but he decided to install some fresh cord rather than risking the glass to the frail health of the existing stuff. This task accomplished, he took the photograph that hung above the fireplace (one of his own images that had won a National competition) from its hook and replaced it with the mirror.

He stood back to better survey the effect and was extremely delighted. The frame was a wall sculpture, a piece of architectural art and the 'floral' nature disappeared in a tangle of shapes and shadows, forms and figures that defied description. He almost forgot that it was a mirror. However, as he stepped forward and focussed upon the distressed reflection something very strange happened. He saw his room, the door to the left, the large bay window to the right but the walls were papered in some hideous patterned paper, the floor covered by a large and vibrantly coloured rug, the furniture all dark brown and puffed and very, very large. He blinked. The hideous picture was still there, but now there was a man standing at the window and a woman sat sewing in the adjacent seat. He turned from the mirror and the room returned to normal. He turned back and the couple and their furnishings sat within the forest frame. Entranced, he watched as the couple conversed but suddenly the image began to fade and the pockmarks, whose disappearance he had neglected to notice, returned to disfigure the mirror. He sat. He had to sit for he had nearly collapsed in shock. Either he was ill, going mad (possibly both) or the mirror was, well, magical. He sat. And thought. He decided that he would not look at the mirror but would take it into the dining room, hang it there and see what happened. This he did but when he looked into the mirror he saw a range with pots on it, more hideous décor and all the trappings of the kitchen that it once had been. There were no people this time but he was sure he smelt something cooking. He looked away from the mirror and examined the frame intently. The strange foliage writhed this way and that, flowers and fruits displayed in their profusion and then he noticed it. A very small flower in the bottom right hand corner, tucked away towards the rear of the frame but with twelve petals and upon each petal five striations and, surrounding this flower, an almost circular leaf that had a curious notch like a tiny caterpillar bite. He reached forward to the flower, took it gently between his forefinger and thumb and applied some gentle force. The flower rotated. It notched its way around, each time stopping as a new striation aligned with the caterpillar's blemish and as it did so the image in the mirror changed. He was rotating the dial clockwise and as he did so the mirror's reflection revealed a new novelty until, after half a full turn, the room was lit by gas light, the crockery on the dresser was of finer quality, the range had shrunk in size and the ceiling gained in stains. It was still the past, but a more recent past, a more modern past, a newer past. The mirror had taken him forward in time, no, the mirror's image had moved forward in time. He renewed his grip on the flower-dial and rotated it against the clock, against the flow of time and watched as, turn by turn, the mirror took him back until bare, unplastered walls and a roofless void appeared; still further and the walls melted into sky and trees and grass; further and the ground buckled and heaved and water came and went, creatures swam past, primeval forests sped into view before, as his fingers felt the flower stiffen, the rocks themselves melted and he felt himself sinking into the molten warmth.

The fire-fighter said he was lucky. It was only because of the stranger in the window ('Dressed rather weird like') that the lady over the road had dialled 999 and, when the police broke in, they had nearly choked on the fumes from the leaking boiler. The intruder was nowhere to be found but the man had been discovered lying on the dining room floor amongst the fragments of glass and wood from the smashed mirror. Oh, and there was a funny smell, an odd mixture of boiled rabbit and sulphur but they couldn't find where it had come from...