>I have been looking into the Stewart brothers of Pairc & Luskentire and was about to begin composing a piece when, as a result of a peek at some MacRae folk, I took a slight diversion…
In 1851 (sorry, it’s not my fault that year keeps supplying the goods!) the Factor of Harris, John Robson Macdonald was visited at Rodel by his sister Isabella MacRae and (what I presumed to be her son) a young farmer called Donald MacRae. Isabella was the wife of a Minister so I took a little look at men of the cloth and decided that a likely candidate was one Finlay MacRae of North Uist. A search on Google soon led me to this page on Family Search which confirmed everything. As you can see from that page, Isabella Maria Macdonald and Finlay had seven children with the eldest being Donald who held the tack of Luskintyre. Finlay died on the 15th of May 1858, shortly before the couple’s 34th Anniversary and, if you click on Isabella, you will see that her father was Colonel Alexander Macdonald of Lynedale. This was in fact Lyndale on Skye and this extract from ‘The Clarion of Skye’ (on the Am Baile site) describes the raising of ‘The Skye Volunteers’ who, two years before Trafalgar, were formed should Napoleon threaten an invasion.
To return to Harris, we know now that John Robson Macdonald was the son of Colonel Alexander Macdonald of Lyndale which is a step forward even if it wasn’t along the path of my original route!
A final observation may be made regarding the fourth of Isabella’s offspring who followed his father into a career in the church and this Rev. John Alexander MacRae was also the Minister of North Uist where he gets mentioned in this piece from the Carmichael Watson Project.
There we learn that the object of a love poem from the Minister was one Jane Macdonald, a daughter of James Thomas Macdonald and a first cousin of the man who was wooing her. Which is how it was that her sister, Jessie, caused all the commotion in Rodel when she was snatched by her lover from under her Uncle John Robson Macdonald’s nose, occasioning him to punish those on Harris who had aided the lovestruck couple in a tale that is well known. What is perhaps less well-know is the connection between Isabella Macdonald and the MacRae Ministers of North Uist which is why I thought it worth relating.