Booksellers of Stornoway

Here are the records from the 1841-1901 censuses whose occupation suggests that they were selling books:

John Mackenzie, 27, Garrabost (Visitor), b. Stornoway

Alexander Macpherson, 53, Druggist and Bookseller, 33 Kenneth St, b. Gairloch, Ross-shire
Donald Mcaulay, 18, Shopman (Druggist and Bookseller),Apprentice, b. Uig, ross-shire
Alexander Mckenzie, 14, Shopman (Druggist and Bookseller), Apprentice, b. Ardnamurchan, Argyle

Alexander McPherson, 63, Druggist and Book Seller, 48, Point St, b. Gairloch

Finlay Mcleod, 44, Book Seller, b. Barvas

1891 – None found

George Macleod, 14, Shop Assistant (Bookseller), 23 Scotland St, b. Stornoway
(Catherine A Mackay, 19, Saleswoman (Books), 31 Church St, b. Stornoway) Her husband, Alexander was a Shoe and Boot Maker, so I think it more-likely she was selling Boots!)

Whilst I was composing this brief list, I was reminded as to why I hadn’t produced it previously:
the possibility of the woods ‘Book’ and ‘Boot’ being mistaken for one-another.

However, the lack of any ‘Boot Sellers’ in the records leads me to have a little bit of confidence that these people were indeed selling books. I do have rather more confidence in the records for the households of Alexander Macpherson in 1871 and 1881 for it was quite usual at the time for Druggists to sell books, stationery and similar goods.

Nevertheless, we can see that bookshops were few and far between in Stornoway even at the dawn of the twentieth century, a time when there were only another eight booksellers in the whole of Ross and Cromarty and only one in Inverness-shire outside of Inverness itself, which had fourteen. Glasgow had over one hundred.


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