Striking Gold – or, rather, Tin

It is the 31st March 1901 and we are at the Tinkers Camp in Market Stance, Stornoway.

There are two families here, the Macdonalds and the Stewarts:

Donald Macdonald, 45, Travelling Tinsmith, b. Lochcarron, Sutherland
Christina Macdonald, 40, Travelling Tinsmith, Wife, b. Gairloch, Ross
Jane Macdonald, 20, Travelling Tinsmith, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Donald Macdonald, 19, Travelling Tinsmith, b. Stornoway
George Macdonald, 15, Son, b. Stornoway
John Macdonald, 15, Son, b. Stornoway
Peter Macdonald, 6, Son, b. Stornoway
Benjamin Macdonald, 4, Son, b. Stornoway

Alexander Stewart, 22, Tinsmith Traveller, b. Stornoway
Mary Stewart, 21, Tinsmith’s Wife, b. Broadfield, Inverness
Coll Stewart, 2, Son, b. Barvas, Ross
Jane Stewart, 2 months, Daughter, b. Barvas, Ross

Several things strike me:

These two families were obviously welcomed within the town and given a prime location to stay.

The two Stewart children were both born in Barvas and the youngest some two months earlier so the family had been on the island since at least January of that year.

All the Macdonald children are said to have been born in Stornoway. Was this the fact, indicating at least 20 years of visiting the town, or did the person responsible for providing the birthplaces simplify things? Only a search of the records can answer that question.

My earlier entry on ‘Two Traveller Families’ dealt with two Stewart families, one of which included a couple of Barvas-born offspring but no Alexander.

If nothing else, I have learnt that in 1901 there was a ‘Tinkers Camp in the Market Stance’ in Stornoway.

(Earlier piece can be found here: Two Traveller Families)


2 thoughts on “Striking Gold – or, rather, Tin

  1. amazing, where did you get the info? my great grandmother was a jane/jean stweart and great grandfather a donald macdonald and they were tinkers caught in the 1871 census as being in Bualnaluib, but later in stornoway in 1881, where did you get the info on the tinker camp?

    • More amazing, I have just learned that the above Donald Macdonald is the brother of my great grandmother Susan/ Susannah macdonald ( their parents were Donald Macdonald dob 31.7.1818 Lochcarron and Jane/ Jean Stewart born between 1830 and 1834 depending on which age you take of various census data)

      Donald and Jane/jean had at least 9 children, the above Donald being one of them ( born 14.5.1856 in gairloch.

      From other census data it appears that the madonalds and stewarts travelled between Gairloch/Lochcarron/ Mellon Charles/ Aultbea and Stornoway. The stewarts and macdonalds consistently married into the others family, and the children were mostly named after the parents and aunties and uncles…. on census records they were all gaelic speakers and were known as black tinkers, or highland travellers, or Ceàrdannan” (“the Craftsmen”) or “luchd siubhail” (people of travel)

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