A Tale of Two Sisters

William Maciver was born in Stornoway in 1892.

His father, also William Maciver, was a Baker and his mother, Annie Kerr, a Dressmaker.

William and Annie were cousins, 1st Cousins, which is why their marriage certificate in 1881 has the addition ‘(cousins)’. They married  following a period of time when he had been lodging with Annie’s parents and her ‘illegitimate’ son, John (my grandfather), who was left to be raised by his grandparents following the wedding.

Annie’s father was Malcolm Kerr, a Seaman originally from Harris, and her mother was Mary Macdonald who’s family had been Cleared from Orinsay, Lochs in 1843. The family ended-up in Steinish, Stornoway.

William the baker’s parents were Malcolm Maciver, a Fisherman of Steinish and Isabella Macdonald, Mary’s younger sister. They were wed on the 19th October 1854 and settled at 42 Steinish road, Stornoway.

Thus it is that William( b. 1892), the penultimate of the seven children that his parents produced, has a rather rare ‘privilege’ – both his grandmothers having been early victims of Donald Munro and his reign of terror on Lewis as evidenced by the 1843 Clearance of Orinsay.

When I spoke to William’s son a few years ago he informed me that, although he new that his grandparents were related, he had not been aware of these precise details. And, of course, it means that he and I are doubly related, both as ‘full’ cousins and as half-cousins!

I do not wish to get embroiled in the ongoing debate that so troubled the father of evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin, as to the advisability of 1st cousin couplings for the evidence appears somewhat conflicting. Some indicates a small additional propensity to genetic defects whilst others, as in this recent report, are rather more alarming in tone: Timesonline

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