Dressmakers of Harris

Here are the dressmaking ladies of Harris that appear in the censuses from 1841 to 1901.

1841 None Listed
1851 none Listed

1861 – 8
Rachel Macaulay, 25, Dress Maker, Daughter, Strond, b. Harris
Johanna Macaulay, 21, Dress Maker, Daughter, Strond, b. Harris
Ann Silver, 24, Dress Maker, Daughter, Strond, b. Harris
BAYS – 4
Mary Mackinnon, 30, Dress Maker, Daughter, Ardvey, b. Harris
Mary Macleod, 36, Dressmaker, Head, Leacli, b. Harris
Mary Mackinnon, 24, Dressmaker, Leacli, Visitor, b. Harris
Mary Maclean, 24, Dress Maker, Granddaughter, Geocrab, b. Harris
Marion Macleod, 21, Dress Maker, Visitor, West Tarbert, b. Harris

1871 – 3
Isabell Kerr, 41, Dressmaker, Wife, Strond, b. Harris
BAYS – 1
Mary Mackinnon, 32, Dress Maker, Sister, Arvey, b. Harris
Ann Macleod, 30, Dressmaker, Daughter, Tarbert Cottage, b. Harris

1881 – 3
Marion Macdonald, 26, Dress Maker, Daughter, East Tarbert No 5, b. Harris
Christina Macdonald, 24, Dress Maker, Daughter, East Tarbert No 5, b. Harris
Ann Macaulay, 42, Dress Maker, Wife, North Harris, b. Stornoway

1891 – 8
Ketty Macaulay, 23, Dressmaker, Niece, Strond, b. Harris
Johanna Stewart, 24, Dressmaker, Daughter, Strond, b. Harris
BAYS – 2
Ann Macaulay, 58, Dressmaker, Wife, Geocrab, b. Durness, Sutherland
Maggie Martin, 18, Dressmaker, Sister, No 3 Scadabay, b. Harris
Catherine Macrae, 17, Dress Maker, Daughter, Hamlets Little Borve, b. Harris
Maggie Mckay, 23, Dressmaker, Daughter, No 17 East Tarbert, b. Harris
Bella Macleod, 22, Dressmaker, Daughter, No 18 East Tarbert, b. Harris
Mary B Macleod, 15, Apprentice Dressmaker, Visitor, No 11 East Tarbert, b. Harris

1901 – 18
Obb – 2
North Bayhead
BAYS – 4
Geocrab – 2
Grosebay – 2
NORTH – 10
No 27 – 2
No 36
No 45
No 62
Kyles Scalpay
Little Urgha – 3

(I have not listed the individuals for this year in order to keep this entry to a reasonable length)

The first thing that strikes me is how few Dressmakers there were but then it has to be remembered that in those days all girls would be expected to be able to wield a needle and thread with a high degree of accomplishment. Thus these may merely be the lucky few who were able to generate extra income from their skills.

The second thing is how many are spinsters in their twenties and thirties. Presumably once married for the majority their dressmaking was largely subsumed within the demanding role of being a wife.

Finally, we can see evidence of the growth in importance of the North over time but the South and Bays areas appear to have remained more resilient in Dressmaking than in other fields.

I intend to conducting a similar exercise for the Tailors of Harris but have been putting that off due to known transcription errors that confuse Sailors and Tailors!


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