Widow’s Row(s) of Stornoway

Having stumbled upon this excellent letter in the Stornoway Gazette of the 15th April 2004, I felt a return to the topic of Widow’s Row(s) in Lewis might be of interest:

1851 90 in 27 (3.3)
1861 56 in 16 (3.5)
1871 97 in 31 (3.1)
1881 38 in 14 (2.7)
1891 None Listed
1901 22 in 9-Newvalley (2.4)

The correspondent states that in 1851 there were 22 families at the Mossend ‘Widow’s Row’ so it may be that 5 of the 27 shown above for that year were elsewhere for, as he says, “The Sandwick Widows’ Row was but one of a number of such named settlements in Lewis.”


All the ‘Widow’s Rows’ were in the Parish of Stornoway but the only one given a specific address is the Newvalley one in the 1901 census, and there is no mention of any others in Stornoway in that year.


The figures which strike me are the average number of people per household. They range from 3.5 down to 2.4 which is well below the norm and a sad reminder that, in many cases, these were people living-out their final years far (both geographically and socially) from the heart of their communities.

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