Ellan Anaby

In the Croft History of Deiraclete & Kendebig, it states that the eldest child of Neil Martin & Ann Macdonald of No 6 Direcleit was John Martin (1801-1881) who married Catherine Macaulay from 1 Ardhasaig before the couple settled in Eileananabuich. I thought I’d have a look at this very distant uncle of mine and soon found myself surrounded by a flurry of dates and locations that have taken a little unravelling.

The nearest I could find to the location was in the 1861 census where a John and Catherine are shown living in the Ellan Anaby of this piece’s title. A little manipulation led to me locating Eilean Anabuich, the Unripe Island, which, as Bill Lawson puts it, ‘…kept confusing the old census takers…’ for, despite the name,  it is a village on mainland Harris on the shore of Loch Maraig looking towards Loch Seaforth. We are deep in the Forest of Harris where it is easy for one to lose sight of the wood for the trees, despite there not being any!

In 1861 John the Fisherman, Catherine and two of their four children had 55 neighbours in the other 10 households of Eilean Anbuich.  In 1841 there had been 57 people living in ‘Miavag’ and in 1851 some 81 folk were found in ‘Meavag’, these earlier references appearing to be to the nearby settlement of Maraig without apparently separately identifying its small unripe neighbour?

The final glimpse of John and Catherine, in 1871, fails to identify the specific location within Enumeration District 20 but it does include two grandchildren, probably the daughters of their son John and his wife Ann although the census neglects to include that detail too.

I don’t know where ‘my’ Martins originated from but Uig in Lewis, Boreray off North Uist and Skye via Borve, Harris are apparently the three most likely candidates?


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