Ordnance Survey in Lewis

In 1851 (or 1853, depending upon one’s source!) the Ordnance Survey (OS) published a map of the Isle of Lewis at a scale of 1:10,560.

It was followed by the First Edition of the One Inch to One Mile (1:63,360) map in 1853.

Lewis was mapped earlier than intended:

Although the plan had been to proceed generally northwards, Sir James Matheson, the proprietor of Lewis, was able to persuade the Survey that areas in Scotland requiring agricultural improvement should be given priority. From 1847-1853, the island of Lewis was mapped, with Matheson paying the extra expenses of being mapped out of sequence, and agreeing to purchase 100 copies of the maps

Ref: http://www.nls.uk/maps/os/6inch/os_info1.html

These people, from the 1851 Census, were at least some of those responsible for these jewels:

Matthew Wainwright, 24, Corporal OS, Black Water Sappers Camp, Stornoway, b. Ireland
Thomas Godding, 28, Chainman, b. Ireland
William Johnson, 26, Chainman, b. Ireland
Daniel Tiffew, 30, Chainman, b. Ireland
Miles Carbarie, 30, Civil Assistant, b. Ireland
John Flynn, 30, Camp Keeper, b. Ireland

Stephen Latham, 30, 2nd Corporal Royal Sappers and Miners, Cromwell St, b. England
(Wife and 3 children, 5 month-old b. Stornoway)

Donald Matheson, 21, Clerk OS, Point Street, b. Lochinver, Sutherland
(Angus Macdonald, 43, Grocer Draper General Merchant, b. Lochbroom)

Neil Cameron, 16, Clerk in OS, Son, Point Street, Stornoway, b. Greenock
(Mary Cameron, 38, Lodging House Keeper, b Argyll)

Patrick Connel, 30, Corporal Royal Miners and Sappers OS, Keith St, Stornoway, b. Ireland
Elizabeth Connel, 31, Wife, b. England
Thomas William, 1, b. Stornoway

George Greenslade, 28, Royal Sapper and Miner OS, Keith Street, b. England
James Turnbull, 16, Curlian OS, b. England

William Marrow, 39, Labourer OS, Keith St, b. Ireland
(Wife b. Stornoway)

John Macdonald, 26, Labourer OS, New Street, b. Uig, Ross
(Wife, b. Lochs and Brother , b. Uig)

Philip Smyth, 58, Chelsea Pensioner Labourer OS, Keith Street, b. Ireland
Daniel Harty, 34, Curl Assistant OS, Lodger, Keith St, b. Ireland
(Mrs Smyth and 2 daughters, all b. Ireland)

David E Halley, 29, Draughtsman Royal Sappers and Miners (Private), Kenneth St, b. E Indies
(William Black, 45, Boot and Shoemaker, b. Leith)

Thomas Kennedy, 27, Royal Sappers and Miners, Boarder, b. Ireland
James Batterden, 26, Royal Sappers and Miners, Boarder, Francis Street, b. Ireland
Joseph Brotherton, 24, Royal Sappers and Miners, Boarder, b. Ireland
Peter Callin, 20, Royal Sappers and Miners, Boarder, b. Ireland
(Margaret Rae, 63, House Propriertrix, b. Perthshire)

James Hannon, 44, Chelsea Pensioner Employed as Draughtsman OS, Francis St, b. Ireland
James Hannon, 16, Employed OS, b. Ireland
(5 more children, youngest aged 1 b. Stornoway)

Robert Cook, 53, Pensioner Royal Sappers and Miners OS, Francis Street, b. England
(Wife, b. England and two daughters of 25 and 23, b. Ireland)

Robert Barlow, 39, Sergeant Royal Sappers and Miners, South Beach, b. England
Scott Barlow, 16, Draughtsman Royal Sappers and Miners, Son, b. Ireland
(Wife and 6 more children, 2 year-old b. Stornoway)

Henry Stafford, 26, Employed OS, Lodger, South Beach, b. North Wales
(Willaim Pope, 46, Master Sailmaker, b. Rothsay, Bute)

George Spalding, 30, Corporal Royal Sappers and Miners, South Beach, b. England
(Wife, b. England)

Simon Ross, 34, Clerk Royal Sappers and Miners, Lodger, Enaclete, b. Redcastle, Ross
(Murdo Macdonald, 45, Shoemaker, b. Stornoway)

Richard Burnley, 29, Captain Royal Engineers, College, b. England
(Wife and 2 children, 3 year-old b. Stornoway)

John Nugent, 37, Surveyor OS, Imorsgliach, Lodger, b. Ireland
(Angus Morrison, 30, Master Shoemaker, b. Stornoway)

Bernard Gates, 31, Land Surveyor OS, South Galston, Barvas, b. Ireland
James Crons, 42, Land Surveyor OS, b .Ireland
John Chamrey, 32, Land Surveyor OS, b. Ireland
James Kelley, 24, Labourer OS, b. England
Malcolm Macdonald, 25, Labourer OS, b. Harris
Duncan Whead, 20, Labourer OS, b. Stornoway
(Hugh Macpherson, 42, Farmer of 150 Acres 15 Labourers, b ,Inverness)

Interesting Ref mentioning Galston Farm House: Galston

James Kennedy, 30, Labourer OS, Lodger, North Galston, b. Argyllshire
Robert Mackay, 28, Labourer OS, b. Thurso
(Angus Graham, 39, Small Tenant, b. Barvas)

Ref: North Galston River

Alexander Lands, 31, Private Royal Sappers, Cross, b. Nairn
(Wife and 4 children,

Park Farm Kenmore, Lochs
James Clarke, 32, Common Labourer OS, Kenmore House, Lodger, b. Perthshire
(Roderick Maclean, 32, Shepherd, b. Contin)

Daniel Balfour, 29, Surveyor (OS), (tent), b. Ireland
Mary Balfour, 31, Wife, b. Ireland
James, 10
Mary, 5

Michael Kayes, 31, 2nd Corporal Royal Sappers and Miners, Eadravil, b. Ireland
Thomas O’farrel, 32, Civil Assistant OS, b. Ireland
John Morrison, 22, Labourer OS, b. Stornoway
Evan Munsey, 18, Labourer OS, b. Stornoway

Brief note on the Royal Engineers and the OS:
Ordnance Survey, began in 1747, was the first of the Royal Engineers ‘specialist’ activities. Between 1820’s-1856 soldiers of the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners assisted officers of the Corps of Royal Engineers in survey duties in the British Isles and elsewhere in the British Empire. Today’s Ordnance Survey was developed from the early Royal Engineers survey activities.
Ref: http://www.army.mod.uk/royalengineers/history/default.aspx

There is a phenomenal amount of information lying in these records. The size of the undertaking can be seen both in terms of the number of personnel involved and its duration as indicated from the birthplaces of some of the children. It appears that some participants had been on the isles since at least 1848.

The dominance of Irishmen in the Royal Sappers and Miners is obvious but we also see that many had been serving, and surveying, that country prior to arriving in Scotland.

We owe these men, and women (for several wives clearly travelled around with their husbands), a huge debt of gratitude for providing us with a unique record which today, nearly 160 years later, we can even examine online:


One thought on “Ordnance Survey in Lewis

  1. I would like to kindly bring to your attention that the entry for Evan Munsey, 18, Labourer OS, b. Stornoway should read ‘Evan Murray, 18, Labourer OS, b. Stornoway’.
    Evan remained employed by the OS throughout his working life (died 1907 Ipswich) He married Catherine Aitkin 13th Jan 1857 and 2 Soldiers from the Royal Engineers were witnesses at the wedding.
    After he finished surveying on the Island of Lewis he moved to the Scottish mainland and lived in Stirling, Ayr and Inverness at the same time these areas were being mapped by the OS.as part of their great push to map the whole of Scotland He spent the remainder of his career working as a clerk for the OS in Ipswich Suffolk.
    His son Kenneth Murray followed his father into the OS and he became a draughtsman/ Surveyor. He eventually moved to work for the OS in Dublin Ireland where he married a local girl and settled.
    Best regards

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