Stornoway Hospital(s)

These are the census records that include the word ‘hospital’:

Peggy Macdonald, 50, Hospital Keeper, 14 Keith Street, b. Stornoway

Mary Sharpe, 26, Housekeeper, Hospital, b. Stornoway

1891 – None Listed

1896 – Lewis Hospital opens on the 1st February

Easthill Road, The Louis Hospital

Marion Macdonald, 38, Matron of Institution, b. South Uist
Jessie Macrae, 42, Head Hospital Nurse, b. Strath, Inverness-shire
Jessie Macrae, 22, General Servant, b. Barvas

Catherine Macleod, 24, Patient, Fishworker (Unemployed), b. Stornoway
Ann Macleod, 16, Patient, Crofter’s Daughter, b. Uig
Katie M Maciver, 14, Patient, Scholar, b. Stornoway

Murdoch Murray, 20, Patient, General Labourer (Unemployed), b. Barvas
Alexander Macmillan, 13, Patient, Scholar, b. Stornoway

Mossend Fever Hospital

Catherine Mackenzie, 49, Hospital Nurse, b. Stornoway
Sophia Mackenzie, 20, Assistant Nurse, Daughter, b. Glasgow

Malcolm Macleod, 39, Patient, Coachman (Not Domestic), b. Lochs
Mary Macleod, 36, Patient, b. Scalpay

It is interesting that the records of 1871 and 1881 indicate the presence of a hospital in the town well before the opening of Lewis Hospital in 1896, but in ‘The Soap Man’, Roger Hutchinson mentions that Stornoway had a hospital in 1884 when the young William Lever first visited the island.

Several things interest me from the 1901 Census (apart from the spelling of ‘Louis’!).

We see that the Matron and Head Nurse are resident along with their five patients. This being a Sunday evening, I wonder if the other nurses would have been scattered throughout the town in their own homes? Unfortunately, if this was the case, they neglected to identify themselves as hospital nurses. It is also striking that all five patients are between 13 and 24 years of age.

Mossend Fever Hospital or, to give it its full title, the Infectious Diseases Hospital is thankfully low in patients but it is interesting to contrast the ages of the two patients, in their mid to late thirties, with the youthfulness we saw in the Lewis Hospital.

I have been unable to learn anything more about the Mossend Fever Hospital apart from this mention of the ‘Old Fever Hospital’ that also locates ‘Widow’s Row’, an address that I have given in other pieces but only now know the location of:

Borve, Harris, Post-Clearance of 1853

Following the 1839 clearance of Borve, it was resettled by the new Factor in 1847 only to suffer a second clearance in 1853.

In 1851 there were 138 people living in Borve but the1861 Census lists a mere 74 people in 14 Households in all three parts of Borve:

Big Borve
Kenneth Macdonald, 43, Sheep Farmer Employing 6 Labourers, b. Applecross, Ross
Margaret Maclellan, 57, Cottar, b. Harris

Middle Borve
Finlay Mackennon, 48, Grass Keeper, b. Harris
Marion Kerr, 70, Weaveress, b. Harris
Christy Campbell, 60, Pauper, b.Harris

Little Borve
Kenneth Macrae, 57, Sheep Farmer, b. Kintail, Ross
Alexander Macrae, 45, Sheep Farmer, b. Dornie, Ross
Hugh Munro, 31, Shepherd, b. Lewis
Joseph Allen, 36, Butler, b. England
Malcolm Kerr, 30, Joiner, b. Harris
Duncan Maclennan, 75, Cottar, b. Harris
Christy Macleod, 60, Cottar, b. Harris
Kenneth Macdonald, 48, Cottar, b. Harris
Angus Macdonald, 42, Cottar, b. Harris

In another 20 years the Farmer Kenneth Macdonald would add ‘Factor’ to his occupation but even in 1861, just 8 years after the Clearance, we can clearly see the effect of replacing these three human communities with sheep.

Three Sheep Farmers, one Shepherd, a Green Keeper and a Butler, but not a crofter in sight.

Just 5 landless Cottars, a Weaveress, a Pauper and a Joiner are all that remain from the previous population on some of the most fertile machair on Harris.

Not forgetting the three sheep farmers ‘imported’ from the Mainland…

(Crowdie & Cream Note: The Joiner was ‘Ayatollah Kerr’s’ father, the Weaveress his Grandmother)

Uig Millers

Here are the Millers of Uig, Lewis as recorded in the 1851-1901 censuses:

John Macaulay, 50, Miller, Breasclet, b. Caoles Phas, Inverness-shire

(John Macaulay, 30, Miller, Visitor, Port Esgein, Farm of Strond, b. Harris – visiting his , Mother-in Law, Margaret Kerr)

Marion Macaulay, 40, Miller’s Wife, Breasdale, b. Harris
(John Macaulay, 50, Corn Miller, Visitor, Obb, b. Harris)
Donald Maciver, 23, Miller, Breasdale, b. Uig

Donald Maciver, 32, Miller, Breasclet, b. Uig

Donald Maciver, 42, Miller, Miller’s House, b. Uig
Donald Macdonald, 17, Miller’s Servant

Donald Maciver, 53, Miller, Breasclete Mill House, b. Barvas
(Mary Ann Maciver, 42, Wife, b. Stornoway)

Catherine Mackenzie, 65, Miller’s Wife, MIL, School house, Uig, b. Loch Conan, Ross-shire
(Ronald Macdonald, 37, Scholar Master, b. North Uist)

Donald Maciver, 63, Miller, Mill House, b. Uig
John Maciver, 27, Miller, Son, b. Breasclete

It is clear that the two John Macualys and Donald Maciver were the principle millers at Breascleit (Breasclete). These results also confirm that the ‘Breasdale’ of 1851 is indeed Breascleit.

A fascinating contemporary account of milling on Lewis, especially regarding the imposition of centralised mills upon the populace, can be read here:

A photo of the Old Mill at Breasclete: and another on the RCAHMS site:

Harris Millers

Here are the records of Millers as recorded in the censuses for 1841-1901:

Donald Macaulay , 50, Miller, Obb, b. Inverness

John Macaulay, 30, Miller, VISITOR,Port Esgein, Farm of Strond, b. Harris
Angus Morrison, 26, Blacksmith and Miller, Obe, b. Harris

John Macaulay, 50, Corn Miller, VISITOR, Oab, b. Harris
(Wife, Marion( MS Kerr), at home in Breasdale, Uig, Lewis)

Angus Morrison, 36, Blacksmith, Oab, b. Harris

Matthew Macduley, 23, Miller, Kendebig, b. Harris
Angus Macsween, 33, Assistant Miller, Kendibig, b. Harris

1871-1901 – None Listed

Several questions immediately rise from these slim returns, including what were these particular men milling, where were their mills and why do they disappear after 1861?

John Knox, in  ‘A Tour through the Highlands of Scotland, and the Hebride Isles, in MDCCLXXXVI‘, records that Captain Alexander Macleod, when he was establishing the Harbour and House at Rodel, also constructed a ‘corn and fulling’ mill, with them both powered by one single water-wheel. There are other remains of water-powered mills on the island but it is also known that much of the corn-milling was done domestically by hand.

In 1841 and 1851 our sole miller is in An-t-Ob and then in 1861 we have just a pair of millers and they are in Ceann Dibig, the township adjacent to Direcleit in the Bays.

John Macaulay, the Miller from Breascleit, Uig, Lewis is the husband of Marion Macaulay (MS Kerr) and in 1851 is visiting his widowed Mother-in-Law at Port Esgein, Farm of Strond. His wife was the daughter of Angus Kerr the Shoemaker who a decade earlier was in the household of the Factor in Rodel.

Intriguingly, in 1861 John Macaulay is visiting none-other than Angus Morrison, the Blacksmith who a decade earlier had ‘and Miller’ appended to his occupation. He may still have been fulfilling that secondary role in 1861, hence this visit from miller Macaulay?

Angus Morrison, the Blacksmith and (sometime) Miller, was a son of John Morrison, ‘Gobha na Hearadh’, who had been the Blacksmith in An-t-Ob before Angus but had moved to Leac a Li at the time of the Disruption because his favouring the Free Church found him out of favour with the Church of Scotland establishment. John proved as good, if not better, at fashioning hymns out of words as he was at fashioning goods out of metal.

Harris Timeline

This is very much an ongoing piece that I have assembled not least to assist me in my researches.
As such, it is inevitable that many details are lacking so it is meant more as an aide-memoire that others might find useful and/or interesting.

1266 – Western Isles formally ceded from Norway to Scotland – Lordship of the Isles formed
1494 – James IV of Scotland defeats last Lord of the Isles but fails to control the islands
1544 – Taransay battle between invading Morrisons of Ness, Lewis and Macleods
1528 – Alasdair Macleod (Crotach – hunch-back) of Harris and Dunvegan builds St Clement’s church at Rodel
1547 – Alasdair Crotach buried at St Clement’s

1730 – Luskentyre, previously part of Tack of Berneray of William Macleod , becomes his home
1746 – Battle of Culloden
1755 – Population is ‘1969 souls’ (NSAS)
17?? – William’s grandaughter, Isabella, inherits and her husband, William Macleod, rules Luskentyre
1779 – Harris sold to Captain Alexander Macleod of Berneray
1782 – Rev John Lanne Buchanan begins travels, describes Macleod’s introducing certain craftsmen to Harris
1784 – St Clement’s church restored by Captain Macleod, burns down and is rebuilt
1786 – Rodel House, Harbour and fishing facilities established by Captain Macleod
1787 – ‘Piscator’ visits Rodel – his account is later published in ‘The Bee’
1790 – Alexander Hume Macleod, Captain Alexander’s Son, inherits Harris
1792 – Rev John Macleod writes Harris entry for Statistical Accounts of Scotland
1792 – Population ‘2536’ (NSAS quoting SAS)
1792 – Sea-ware and Feannagan cultivation
1794 – Sound of Harris description
1794 – ‘A Defence of the Scots Highlanders’
1794 – Taransay home to 140 people
1794 – Sound of Harris described
1797 – Robert Heron’s and the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement

1800s – Taransay has crofters in Raa but Paible and Uidh are now only farms
1804 – Bald’s Map of Harris
1808 – A warning regarding The Disease of The Curl that affects Potatoes
1810 – Horgabost cleared
1811 – Alexander Norman Macleod inherits Harris from his father, Alexander Hume Macleod
181? – Donald Stewart, Sheep Farmer, becomes Factor
181? – Seilibost divided into Crofts – to maximise population and rents
1815 – Kelp Market plummets following end of French Wars
1818 –  Rodel Cleared whilst Alexander Norman Macleod was residing at Rodel House
1824 – Present Eilean Glas Lighthouse built
1827 – An account of Baptist Preaching on Harris
1828 – Scarista cleared
1828 – Presence of Asbestos on Harris described
1829 – Seilibost partially cleared

1830s – Farm of Strond broken into crofts
1830s – Direcleit and Ceann Dibig, parts of Luskentyre Farm, broken into crofts
1831 – Population 3810
1832 – Donald Stewart refuses to replace slates on Church on Berneray
1834 – 5th March, George Murray, 5th Earl of Dunmore buys Harris for £60,000
1834 – Duncan Shaw becomes Factor
1836 – Alexander Murray, 6th Earl of Dunmore, inherits Harris
1836 – Poor harvest, particularly of Potatoes – earliest claimed date for Countess of Dunmore marketing tweeds
1837 – Poor harvest, particularly of Potatoes
1838 – Seilibost cleared
1839 – Big Borve, Middle Borve and Little Borve cleared

184? –  Raa on Tarasaigh Cleared for John Macdonald, tacksman
1841 – Rev John MacIver writes for New Statistical Account of Scotland (NSAS)
1841 – Population ‘upwards of 4000’
1841 – 6th Earl of Dunmore at his London home
1841 – Estate Officer residing at Rodel is John Lindsay
1843 – Church of Scotland fragments in Disruption – islanders join Free Church of Scotland
1843 – 6th Earl of dunmore considering building a harbour at W Loch Tarbert, with a link to the E Loch
1844 – Catherine Murray, Countess of Dunmore, is said to Start the Harris Tweed Industry
1845 – Alexander, 6th Earl, dies and Catherine, his wife, is ‘Tutor’ for her son, 4 yr old Charles Adolphus, 7th Earl of Dunmore
1846 – Potato Famines begin
1847 – Borve, Harris resettled by new Factor. Kenneth Macdonald was Assistant Factor
1848 – Sunday Postal Deliveries Cease
1849 – Countess of Dunmore establishes the Embroidery School at An-t-Ob

1850s – House at An-t-Ob built for the Gardener and his wife, the Embroidery Teacher
1850s – Tarbert gets its first church
1851 – Marion and Chirsty Macleod, the ‘Paisley sisters’ living at Port Esgein, Farm of Strond, the tenant of the tack of Strong and Killegray being a by Mrs Campbell.
1851 – John Robson Macdonald, Land Factor and Justice of the Peace, who succeeded Donald Stewart, living at Rodel House
1851 – Master of the Harris Mailboat, John Morrison, residing at Port Esgein
1851 – Crofts at Direcleit and Ceann Dibig bisected to provide homes for people cleared from Borve on Berneray
1851 – Inn at An-t-Ob first found
1851 – Potatoes Famines end – latest date for Countess of Dunmore’s marketing of tweeds
1852 – Highland and Islands Emigration Society(HIES) formed – 742 leave Harris for Australia
1853 – Borve, Harris cleared again
1853 – Manish Free Church built
1854 – Glasgow Herald article on Gaelic School Exhibition and Sale
1854 – Road from Stornoway to Tarbert completed
1857 – 24th March – 6th Earl of Dunmore’s 16th Birthday
1857 – Lady Dunmore and Mrs Thomas, wife of a Government Surveyor, start Stocking-Knitting(socks and knickerbocker stockings) industry
1857 – Admiral Otter’s Chart of the Sound of Harris
1858 – ‘In 1858Lady Dunmore was a mother to her people in Harris.’ – Duchess of Sutherland writing of ‘The Revival of Home Industries’ in ‘The Land Magazine’, Vol 3, 1899.

1860s – Direcleit and Ceann Dibig cleared
1862 – 24th March – 6th Earl of Dunmore’s 21st Birthday
1863 – Ardvourlie Castle built as Hunting Lodge for North Harris Estate
1865 – Harris Hotel built by Earl of Dunmore and originally called Tarbert Hotel
1867 – Abhainnsuidhe Castle built by Earl of Dunmore
1867 – North Harris Estate sold to Sir Ernest Scott for £155,000 (over two-and-a-half times what the 5th      Earl of Dunmore had paid for the whole of Harris 33 years earlier!)

1871 – Stocking Knitters of Strond, and elsewhere too, appear in abundance in the Census
1872 – Telegraph Cable from Stornoway to Scotland laid
1873 – Dunmore’s restore St Clement’s church
1879 – 4th March – Ardvourlie castle burnt down
1879 – The Wreck of the Yacht Astarte

1881 – SS Dunara Castle appears in Harris on this and the following 2 censuses
1881 – Angus Kerr, Farm Manager, at Rodel
1882 – Nov/Dec – Thomas Brydone becomes Lord Dunmore’s Factor (Napier Commission Evidence)
1883 – Thursday, 31st May, Obbe  – Napier Commission
1884 – Direcleit and Ceann Dibig recrofted
1886 – Countess of Dunmore dies in February
1886 – Crofters’ Act passed 25th June
1886 – Telegraph Cable from Port Esgein, Harris to North Uist laid
1888 – Assisted emigration to Canada established
1888 – ‘Women’s Work in Harris (Hebrides),’ in The British Friend, by Edward Grub – Mrs FWL Thomas

1890 – ‘Spanker’ wrecked in a storm in the Sound of Harris
1895 – Crofters Commission Report allows 1 horse, 4, cows and 20 sheep per croft in Strond
1897 – Golden Road linking Tarbert and Rodel through the Bays is completed
1897 – Manish Victoria Cottage Hospital built & endowed by Mrs Frances Thomas

1900 – Carding Mill built at Lon na Feille, the old Market Stance, in Direcleit by Sir Samuel Scott, owner of the North Harris Estate
1902 – Death of Mrs Frances Thomas
1919 – Lord Leverhulme buys South Harris for £20,000 and North Harris for £36,000
1920s – Geocrab Carding Mill built by Lord Lever – the locals refuse to use it
1924 – Leverburgh prospers
1925 – Lord Leverhulme dies, South Harris sold for £900 in an Auction
1925 – Finlay J Macdonald born
1944 – North Harris Estate bought by Sir T. O. M. Sopwith
1974 – Taransay’s last residents leave

The Rise and Decline of a Family Name on Harris

I previously looked at three options for the origin of my Hearach ancestors:
Metal-Working, Tinkering and Left-Handedness.

Looking closely at the records for Inverness-shire, Ross-shire and Argyll-shire I realised that the pattern of names in Inverness doesn’t fit, in Ross there were a couple of families in Lochbroom and in Argyll the fit is better, but the occupations show no particular pattern. I am therefore ruling-out the craft aspect.

A similar exercise for the whole of Scotland produced no record of a Tinkering/Hawking tradition.

That leaves the ‘famous’ Left-Hander and to an examination of the actual families on Harris.

No of Families
1841 – 9
1851 – 8
1861 – 6
1871 – 5
1881 – 4
1891 – 2
1901 – 1

The pattern is clear. However, we can learn more, especially by examining first names.
Of the 9 families in 1841, one stands-out for containing ‘Kenneth, Peter and William’ where the others all have Angus, Malcolm & Roderick – this family move to Argyll in the 1850s and I believe them to be of separate origin, although the patriarch, Peter, was born on Harris.

That leaves 8 families and one of these disappears from the records. They probably emigrated, but a cursory attempt to find them in Canada or Australia has proved fruitless so they may have perished on the voyage.

Of the remaining 7 families, it can be seen by the sequence of the names of the male heirs that they might be the sons of between 3 or 5 fathers. Two brothers were the sons of a Malcolm and the others fathers might have been Donald, John and Roderick. As these 5 died before the arrival of Statutory Registration of Deaths in 1855 I am unable to be completely sure. It is pure chance that the line started by Malcolm, which includes the two brothers who lived until 1867, is my own.

Assuming that I am correct, then we can repeat the process and conjecture that this group of 3-5 fathers were themselves the sons of perhaps two or three men. That could mean that the 8 families are only 3 generations away from a single ancestor. Probably from Strond, possibly from Taransay.

If that too is correct then the name appeared around the middle of the 18thC and probably does reflect some significant deed done by a left-handed Hearach at that time. A deed worthy of him being known for being left-handed but, unfortunately, not significant enough to be recorded in the oral tradition.

It is a flight of fancy, but one event fits and it is the one event that might have led a man to gain recognition for his prowess with the sword he held in his left hand. It happened in 1745…

Note: The ‘loss’ of a name on an island starting from a miniscule presence is repeated but in most cases the origin can be traced. It is the apparent sudden appearance that has been baffling. I should also point-out that many female descendents married and raised families on Harris so, although the name has gone, there are Morrisons, Macdonalds, Macsweens, Macleods, Macaskills, Mackinnons, Macraes, Mackays, and Campbells on Harris who can trace themselves back to a Kerr ancestry.