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

Monday, 16 December 2013

William Anderson Smith (1844-1906), author of "Lewsiana; or Life in the Outer Hebrides ... With illustrations" 1875

I have been reading a book which I found thanks to the British Library having placed over one million images on the Flickr photographic site, including this one.of beehive dwellings and summer shielings.

Incidentally, the library catalogue shows eight books authored by William Anderson Smith, published between 1874 and 1892.

I don't intend providing an in-depth review of the book itself – suffice to say the tone is very much of its time, but it does inadvertently supply some useful snippets of information along the way. What did intrigue me, however, was what I discovered when I began seeking William Anderson Smith in the census records:

John Smith, 51, Writer and Arithmeter, Ivy Bank, Kinnoull, Perthshire, b. Glasgow
Jane H Smith, 46, Wife, b. Greenock
William Anderson Smith, 8, Scholar, b. Perth

It is worth noting that the young William, fourth of six children listed at this time, was the son of a writer.

William Smith, 18, Lodger, Mercantile Clerk, 38 Hill St, Blythswood, Glasgow Barony, b. Perth

I cannot be certain that this is our man, but he is the closest match that I can find and the 'dropping' of his second name would be perfectly compatible with his status as a lodger – with census information we are relying upon what the person who provided the information knew, or could remembder, about the members of their household.

William Anderson Smith, 29, Head, Cod Liver Oil Manufacturer, Part of Carloway House, Carloway, Ross & Cromarty b. Perth

Now, Comann Eachdraidh Uig (Uig Historical Society) have several pieces devoted to William Anderson Smith, but I cannot see any reference to his most unusual occupation! I say that because, as far as I can ascertain, he is the sole 'Cod Liver Oil Manufacturer' to be recorded in Ross-shire in any census from 1841 to 1901 inclusive. I wonder how successful this venture was? This piece from the society's site makes for interesting reading: http://www.ceuig.co.uk/history/land/the-maladministration-of-the-lews-1886/

William Anderson Smith, 38, Head, Oyster Culturalist Journalist and Author, Rhugarve Cottage, Ardchattan, Argyll, b. Perth

Mary A Smith, 43, Wife, b. Cromarty
John D Sutherland, 15, Land Agent Assistant, b. Inverness
Mary Craig Sutherland, 9, Stepdaughter, b. Inverness
Henry Torcuil Smith, 5, b. England
Bessie A N Smith, 3, b. Glasgow
Mary MacGillivray, 18, Servant, b. G, Inverness-shire

Here we see the mature William with wife and family. It would appear from the information in his death certificate, that Mary was his second wife. I am unclear as to whether the Sutherland children are from William's first marriage or whether they were his step-children, too. I could investigate in Scotland's People but that's for another day...

William Anderson Smith died on 22 July 1906 at the age of 62. He had been married firstly to Elizabeth Morgan and then to Mary Hoach, or Sutherland. 

His late father's occupation is given as some kind of writing master, I write 'some kind' because, unfortunately, I cannot make out the writing.

Update: A scan be seen in the comments below, my friend Ciorstaidh has checked and Mary's name appears to have been 'Hosack'; and she has also identified his father as having been an 'Academy Writing Master'.


  1. Hi - out of curiosity I looked at the death certificate and I think that William's father is an "Academy Writing Master". I also think that his second wife's surname is "Hosack". Thanks for the interesting posts on Anderson.

  2. Mòran taing a Chiorstaidh, both for the clarification and for your kind words, too.

  3. Name: William Anderson Smith married Spouse's Name: Elizabeth Burton Morgan
    on 09 Mar 1874 at "Aharacle,Argyll,Scotland " Elizabeth died in Lanarkshire in 1877, aged 26. It is possible that Elizabeth Burton Morgan was the same person christened on 26 Sep 1850 at Cranborne, Dorset, England, the daughter of John Henry and Mary Anne Morgan.

    Mary Craig Sutherland was born on the 31st May 1871 at Inverness to John Sutherland
    and Mary Ann Hossack. John and Mary Ann also had children Frances Barbara Sutherland
    born 25 March 1869 (mother's name Mary Ann Hyldeard Hossack) and John Donald born 10 November 1865 both born in Inverness.