Having (once again) found myself about to start a piece repeating one that I had already composed (with over 450 entries relating to the Western Isles this is perhaps not too alarming!) I think it is time for me to take a break.
Readers appear to be looking at 5 or 6 dozen pages each day, which is probably quite modest in blogworld terms but pleases me greatly in this particular backwater of the blogosphere.
I have had feedback from professional academics and fellow amateur researchers, from ‘passers-by’ and friends & family, and must thank each and every one of them for their very kind words and encouragement.
However, I feel that now is probably a good time for me to allow this blog to settle (the last time I did so it resulted in the ‘Sounds of Harris’ pieces which began with the far loftier ambition of writing a book integrating my ancestors lives into the wider story of the island on a grand scale, but in the end I realised that was way beyond my modest capabilities).
Any further developments will only become practicable when I can physically access certain sources, and/or when the 1911 Census records for Scotland are released in the Spring of 2011.
Meanwhile, I would still very much like to hear from readers, preferably via email, whether it be to make a specific point or a general comment, to add information or correct an error, to request a topic for future inclusion or just to say ‘Hello’!
Finally, thank you for being one of my readers and for sharing my interest in a small island chain, off the coast of a slightly larger set of islands, whose inhabitants & descendants continue to make impacts across the Globe far in excess of both their number and the acreage that spawned them…
I have added a little information to http://direcleit.blogspot.com/2010/05/obe-harris-thursday-may-311883.html and http://direcleit.blogspot.com/2010/06/sold-to-stewart.html that relate to ownership of Harris and the copy of Bald’s map, another entry regarding which is here: http://direcleit.blogspot.com/2010/06/names-from-balds-1804-map-of-harris.html .
I draw attention to these updates merely because I believe there to be sufficient evidence for me to now say with a reasonably high degree of confidence that this annotated version of the map, which James B Caird informs us in Togail tir only came to light in 1988, was indeed in active use by the Estate during Charles Adolphus Murray, 7th Earl of Dunmore’s ownership of the isle.
Where it resided and who wrote upon it are two questions that I would dearly love to be able to answer!
Note: Link to the map – http://www.nls.uk/maps/counties/view/?id=660
Update: Murdo’s parents were, according to his Marriage Certificate, Angus Mcdonald & Christy Morrison. The 1901 census shows the following:
Christina Mcdonald, 59, Woolspinner, No 46 North Harris*, b. Harris
Marion Mcdonald, 21, Daughter, b. Falkland Islands
(*North Harris with a No. is probably 46 Tarbert, the 1901 Census not specifying Tarbert addresses)
There is no record of either of them in the 1891 census.
Although I have been unable to discover their voyage from the Falkland Islands to the Isle of Harris, I find it tantalisingly plausible that this mother and daughter are Murdo’s mother and sister. If so, then his mother was born in Harris and it is interesting that there is one marriage recorded between an Angus Macdonald and a Christina Morrison on the island. It took place in 1871 and so we can imagine the couple marrying prior to their departure for a new life many thousands of miles away, at least two children resulting from their union and then these two and their mother returning to the isle of their parents birth.
I will, in due course, examine the Marriage Certificate which, together with a search for and examination of the Death Certificates of these three, should settle the matter.
Update: I was interested in learning about population figures for the Falkland Islands and eventually found these tables showing 811 people in 1871, 1510 in 1881, 1789 in 1891 & 2043 by 1901. There is an informative timeline and much other useful information to be seen on the site.
This PDF document is a paper from the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland published in 1993 that contains plenty of food for thought on the organisation of island settlement that led to the development of crofting townships:
West Highland and Hebridean settlement prior to crofting and the Clearances
It is a scholarly, but very readable, account and the Abstract, Introduction and closing Overview give a clear synopsis of the competing claims together with the conclusions reached by the author, Robert Dodghson. I would, however, recommend reading the complete text for it is packed with detailed, illuminating information.
This project http://addressinghistory.blogs.edina.ac.uk/ looks extremely interesting and, although I haven’t properly explored the project yet, thought I would give it a mention.
I have no doubt that it will prove very useful in following islanders who moved to the mainland as well as in researching those from the mainland who played a part in the history of the isles – I would love to be able to identify whereabouts in Edinburgh Mrs Frances Thomas had her Harris Tweed depot, for example!
Here is a chart showing what I believe to be the ancestry of Finlay J Macdonald.
Pieces relating to him can be seen here: http://direcleit.blogspot.com/search/label/Finlay%20J%20Macdonald
I cannot be absolutely certain regarding this chart but it represents the ‘best-fit’ from what little biographical information has been previously published regarding this particular son of Harris.
If you scroll down this link to ‘Gaelic Mapping’ you will find a wee tale about a place in Lewis:
Happily, Iain mac an Tailleir appears to provide the true explanation!