Fisherfolk of Stornoway 1851-1901

I present here the results from a ‘crude’ interrogation of the wildcard word ‘Fisher*’ for those residing in Stornoway:

                      Men          Women
1851              406              114
1861              657              216
1871              771              124
1881              937              377
1891            1094              513
1901            1291              563

Even with all the usual warnings regarding accuracy and precision that these snapshots in time necessitate, we can see a clear pattern of growth during these 50 years.

The only exception appears in 1871 where the number of women is perhaps half that which might have been expected. This might simply be an artefact of that particular census. It could also reflect the fact that the ‘Herring girls’ were itinerant workers and hence many of them were employed elsewhere at the time. I think the unusually large ratio between men and women in 1871 point towards it being a mere artefact.

The results indicate that overall between a quarter and a third of those employed by the fishing were women, whose dexterity and skill was vital in ensuring that Stornoway Herring were sought-after in European markets as far-afield as the Baltic.

Their impact on the growth of Stornoway can be seen to this day.


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