I thought that, as it is Mrs S Macdonald’s account that is often quoted regarding the events that led to the Harris Tweed Industry, it was sensible to devote a piece to the lady herself.
Born in 1841, Sarah Grant from Grantown-on-Spey appears to have followed an interesting path to Harris. There are a few candidates for Sarah in the 1841 and 1851 censuses but, until I interrogate the BMD records, I shall leave those behind and take-up her story from 1861 onwards:
Sarah Grant, 20, Teacher, Niece (Yeats), 369 High St, Forres, b. Grantown, Invernessshire
Knowing that Sarah was to marry Roderick Macdonald in Forres in 1868, it came as no surprise to find ‘her’ living there, but I required corroboration that ‘my’ Sarah was a niece of the Yeats family with whom this one was living.
Sarah Grant, 43, School Mistress, Oab, b. Forres, Morayshire
Sarah Yeats, 14, Niece, Scholar, Oab, b. Forres, Morayshire
Serendiptously and simultaneously, her elder namesake and fellow teacher was in An-t-Ob at the time and this other Sarah (who was born in Forres) had her own niece residing with her. The niece was called Sarah Yeats and hailed from Forres. Surely too much of a coincidence!
(35 year-old Roderick was living at his father’s Inn at An-t-Ob at this time)
1868 – Marriage to Roderick Macdonald in Forres, Morayshire
Sarah McDonald, 29, Wife, Obe Shop, b. Invernessshire
Sarah Grant, 53, Obe Shop, Annuitant, Visitor, b. Invernessshire
Further evidence appeared in 1871 with the two women, one now the wife of the Merchant and Farmer Roderick Macdonald and the other in her retirement, residing together at the shop in An-t-Ob. Precisely how the two ladies were related (they might have been sisters, despite the age-gap) remains uncertain for the moment but the name ‘Yeats’ is involved somehow!
Sarah McDonald, 40, Farmer’s Wife, Kyles House, b. Cromdale, Invernessshire
The family took-over Kyles Lodge and Farm where they remained for the following two censuses.
Sarah McDonald, 50, Wife, Farm House, b. Strathspey, Grantown
1895? – Writes her account for The Scottish Home Industries Association
Sarah Mcdonald, 60, Farmer’s Wife, Farm House, Harris, b. Grantown, Invernessshire
1912 Died in Harris at the age of 71
So there we have what I have discovered so far about Sarah Grant who became Mrs S Macdonald of the Scottish Home Industries Association.