Population Table – Kerrs of the West Coast

Note: Columns are for Inverness-shire then Harris within that county, Ross-shire and Lewis within that county; for Inverness-shire & Ross-shire combined and the number & proportion deriving from Harris & Lewis. These are followed by the numbers for Argyll-shire and Sutherland-shire and the total for all four counties:

Census Inverness-shire Harris Ross-shire Lewis I&R H&L % Argyll-shire Sutherland-shire Total

1841

94

65

28

0

122

65

53.3

198

242

562

1851

93

47

23

3

116

50

43.1

255

171

542

1861

116

47

43

7

159

50

31.4

251

225

635

1871

104

36

20

6

124

42

33.9

169

225

518

1881

97

24

19

6

116

30

25.9

249

217

582

1891

74

23

35

10

109

33

30.3

220

193

522

1901

60

17

37

11

97

28

28.9

196

159

452
(I have prepared charts from this data but am struggling to get ‘Blogger’ to accept them!)
I have restricted my examination to these four counties because, as can be seen on this map ,  they form the mass of the (Gaelic-speaking) West Coast of Scotland. Caithness did support a small population and their occupational range is quite similar to that on Harris but the pattern of names is different. A similar result was found for Argyll-shire.
The firsr feature that strikes me is that we start with over half the population of Inverness-shire and Ross-shire being due to those on Harris. This strongly suggests to me that the name was not native to those counties and hence we need to look further afield.
The figures exhibit greater synchronicity between Sutherland and the Inverness/Ross population than do those for Argyll which form a cyclical pattern. There is also greater similarity amongst names, such as Angus and Roderick, in the three counties with others such as James and Peter appearing in Argyll. (Interestingly, there was a Peter in Harris in 1841 but he later moved with his family to Argyll). If male names form a chain back into history, then  there is stronger evidence suggesting that it snakes back to Sutherland than anywhere else.
All this has to be taken with a ship-load of salt but I am leaning towards the idea that a family or two moved from Sutherland to Harris (including Taransay) by the early 18thC and settled there but that a range of circumstances (Clearances, Emigration, non-marrying males & a lack of male heirs) led to the name’s demise on Harris.
Those who left the island, whether to Canada, America, Australia, England, Argyll or, indeed, Lewis, were slightly  more successful in continuing to add links to the chain…

Update: This PDF makes the point rather well – it ‘feels’ like the Harris families, but in Stoer (and a few other places in Assynt, Sutherland) and with a larger overall presence in the population: http://rogart.fileave.com/HMD%20MARRIAGES.pdf

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