Schooling in Finsbay

Having compiled various lists and other material relating to education in Harris, I thought I would make a start on looking at individual schools and have decided to begin with Finsbay in the Bays of Harris:
Donald Maclean, 24, Schoolmaster, Finsbay, b. North Uist
John Maclean, 22, Farm Labourer, Brother, b. North Uist
Ann Maclean, 20, House Servant, Sister, b. North Uist
Christy Maclean, 16, House Servant, Sister, b. North Uist
William Dingwall, 26, Schoolmaster, General Assembly, Finsbay, b. Ross-shire
1871 – None found in the 11 households containing 66 people in Finsbay
1872 Education (Scotland) Act
1876 School Built – See
1881 Finsbay is not identified but if it lay in ED4 at this time then my instinct suggests:
Thomas M Brunton, 37, Teacher ‘Elementary School’ MA, School House, South Harris ED4, b. Glasgow (Wife Jessie, 32, was the Sewing Mistress at ‘Elm School’)
Donald J MacRae, 40, Public School Teacher, Finsbay, b. Applecross, Ross-shire
Margaret MacRae, 39, Sewing Mistress, Wife, b. Uig, Lewis, Ross-shire
Marjorie M MacRae, 3, Daughter, b. Harris
Neitina(?) M MacRae, 1, Daughter, b. Harris
Christy MacDonald, 17, General Servant Domestice, b. North Uist
Donald J Macrae, 50, Public School Teacher, Finsbay School House, b. Applecross, Ross-shire
Margaret Macrae, 48, Sewing Mistress, Wife, b. Lewis
Marjorie M Macrae, Scholar, Daughter, b. Harris
Kilbina M Macrae, Scholar, Daughter, b. Harris
No of Children (from Pupil Number Data)
1919 – 58 pupils
1929 – 39 pupils
1938 – 24 pupils
1950 – 32 pupils
1958 – 24 pupils
1969 – closed
We can say with certainty that in 1851 and 1861 there was a schoolmaster residing in Finsbay but as to the location of the school itself and which church employed them I cannot say. No teacher is found in Finsbay itself in 1871 and this is followed by the 1872 Education Act and the consequent building of the Public School in 1876. Unfortunately Finsbay is not identified on the 1881 Census but there were three Schoolmasters in South Harris that might be candidates for the the post and of these I have opted for Thomas Brunton for he is the only one with a Sewing Mistress Wife and we can see that to have also been the case when Donald Macrae took over the role, possibly by 1888 for his eldest daughter was born in Harris in that year.
Finally, we have the figures showing the declining pupil numbers from the end of WWI until the school’s closure in 1969, just 7 short years away from being able to celebrate a century of schooling for the children of Finsbay and the surrounding area in this part of the Bays of Harris.

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