Master of the Harris Mail Boat

Occasionally you stumble across an unexpected delight.

I was looking through some records associated with boats and suddenly discovered that in 1851 (nearly 160 years ago) there was a Master of the Harris Mail Boat.

Hearach John Morrison, 38, together with his wife and seven children were residing at Port Esgein, a tiny inlet in the Sound of Harris and home to the Farm of Strond.

Port Esgein is significant as it is just a short walk from Loch Rodil and thence to Rodel Harbour

John would have kept the Mail Boat in one of these three locations, reminding us that it would be another 60 years before the ‘Soap Man’ decreed that Obbe was the perfect spot for a Great Harbour, despite local knowledge warning him otherwise.

What kind of vessel was Morrison the Master of?
Which ports did it serve, on the mainland and elsewhere on the islands?
How frequent a service (weather allowing) did it provide?
When did it start, and cease?

The only answer I currently have is, ‘I don’t know’, but it is certainly another piece of evidence that this now-tranquil South-Eastern end of Borrisdale, encompassing Port Esgein, the Farm of Strond and adjacent to Rodel, was once very much at the heart of Harris.

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