Gamekeepers of Harris

These are all the Gamekeepers found in the census returns for Harris.
I have separated them into South Harris and then North Harris and added notes for each decade:

1851
Angus Shaw, 42, Geocrab, b. Harris

Finlay Macleod, 30, Visitor, Port Esgein, Farm of Strond, b. Harris

As Finlay Macleod is only visiting Port Esgein and is later found in North Harris he may well have been working on the latter Estate at this time. He and a Miller, John Macaulay, are at the home of the Shoemaking Kerr family with the ‘Paisley Sisters’ also living at Port Esgein at this time.

1861
Angus Shaw, 50, Ardslave, b. Harris

Finlay Macleod, 44, Miavaig, .b Harris

We are awaiting the construction of the two castles of Harris in 1863 and 1867 but nevertheless it is surprising that these two remain the only ‘permanent’ Gamekeepers recorded.

1871
Angus Shaw, 64, Strond, b. Harris

Murdo Macaulay, 57, Ardourlie Castle, b. Harris
Donald John Mackenzie, 45, House at Tarbert, b. Harris
James Robertson, 37, Main Road of Harris, b. Perthsire
Donald Scott, 28, Avensrudh Castle, b. Perthshire

Angus Shaw is still serving the South Harris Estate but we now have a Gamekeeper at each castle plus two more on North Harris.

1881
John Finlayson, 28, South Harris, b. Stirling

Roderick Mackay, 32, Farm House, N Harris, b. Lochbroom
D John Mackenzie, 60, Stavke Loft, N Harris, b. Harris
Finlay Macleod, 63, Miavaig, b. Harris
Angus Macleod, 46, Luachair Keeper’s House, N Harris, b. Harris
Charles Macleod, 23, Bunamhewdara, N Harris, b. Harris
Murdoch Macaulay, 65, Keeper’s House, N Harris, b. Harris
Robert Macaulay, 25, (Unemployed), Son, Keeper’s House, N Harris, b. Harris
Frederick Macaulay, 29, 2 Ardvourlie, b. Lochs
Murdo Macfarland, 48, Assistant GK, 3 Ardvourlie, b. Ness, Ross-shire

John Finlayson has taken over the role at Rodel and we see 8 gamekeepers serving the castles and the North Harris Estate.

1891
John Finlayson, 41, Rodel, b. Stirling
Roderick Macleay(?), 43, Hamlets Little Borve, b. Lochbroom
Donald Macleod, 47, Leaclee, b. Harris
Duncan Shaw, 45, Flodabay, b. Harris

Murdo Macaulay, 78, No 2, N Harris, b. Harris
Finlay Macleod, 75, Tolomochan House, N Harris, b. Harris
Charles Macleod, 32, No 2 N Harris, b. Harris
Frederick Maculay, 48, 2 Ardvourlie, b. Lewis

Borve Lodge, on the West coast, is represented now but the predominance of the North is still in evidence.

1901
John Finlayson, 51, Rodel, b. Stirling
Roderick Macleay, 53, Little Borve, b. Lochbroom
Duncan Shaw, 52, Flodabay, b. Harris

Murdo Macdonald, 86, 2 Gamekeepers House, N Harris, b. Harris
Donald Macdonald, 22, 5 Solomochan cottage, N Harris, b. Kilmonivig, Inverness-shire
John Macinnes, 40, 2 Bunavoneadder, N Harris, b. Harris
Angus Macleod, 66, 1 N Harris, b. Harris

Samuel Morrison, 35, Laxdale(?), b. Harris

The previous pattern is maintained but whether the apparent drop from the 1881 heights is a true reflection of sporting activity or merely an artiface of the peripatetic nature of Gamekeeping is not known.

Anecdotally, one of my English Gamekeeping ancestors appears in one Census in a large group of Gamekeepers staying in a barn! They were clearly engaged in supporting a hunt away from their families at the time.

The other surprise has been to see that throughout the years a Gamekeeper has resided in the Bays of Harris, initially in isolation but then latterly accompanied by a colleague living in Rodel.

I have not yet established a construction date for Borve Lodge, today still in private ownership but now within the area administered by the West Harris Trust which combined the estates of Luskentyre, Borve and Scaristavore.

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2 thoughts on “Gamekeepers of Harris

  1. My great great grandfather Donald Black Laird served as a gamekeeper on South Harris from c. 1877 to c. 1880. His first wife Elizabeth Leslie Coutts died in Rodel in 1878 leaving a large family. He then married a local girl, Rachel Paterson, in 1878, and they had a son called Charles Murray Laird in 1879. My great grandfather, James, was only 2 when his mother died and was taken to his father's hometown of Dunkeld to live, some time in 1878, where he was brought up by Donald's brother George and his wife Jane. Donald and Rachel and family moved to Donegal and remained there until Donald's death 20 years later.

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