‘At the time that he was based in the area he had a friend, Malcolm Gillies, who had been born in Skye and later became a schoolmaster in Harris and in North Uist. Malcolm Gillies had a son whom he named Frederick Thomas. This Frederick Thomas gillies was later a merchant in Lochboisdale. The former Head of the BBC’s Gaelic Department, Fred Macaulay, is named after this relative. So the name of Captain Thomas lives on in the islands.’
‘Captain Otter & Captain Thomas’ by Gillian Maclean and Finlay Macleod p120 ‘Togail Tir’
This is one of my favourite essays in Togail Tir and, whilst reading it in advance of much of my earlier work on the two Captain’s might have saved me quite a few hours of ‘toil’, in some ways it is even nicer to find published confirmation of one’s own endeavours.
What follows are the records from the censuses, charting what I believe to have been Malcolm.s journey from his home on his father’s farm, via a period as a merchant, to his vocation in education.
(I have attempted to make it easier to track individuals by using various combinations of bold and italics and I trust that readers find this so.)
1841 – Bracadale
Murdoch Gillies, 80, Farmer
Malcolm Gillies, 40, Tea Dealer in Retail, b. Kilmuir, Skye, Inverness
1861 – North Uist
Malcolm Gillies, 50, Gaelic Teacher, b. County Bracadale, Inverness-shire
Marion, 7, b. Trumisgary – as were her 4 siblings below
John, 11 months
Malcolm Gillies, 61, Gaelic Teacher, b. Brackadle, Inverness-shire
Archie, 7, b. North Uist
Roderick, 5, b. Harris
Mary, 3, b. Harris
Malcolm, 1, b. Kilmuir
1881 – North Uist
Malcolm Gillies, 76, Missionary Teacher
Marion, 27, Sewing Mistress
Mary A, 13
Ewen, 22, Arts Student
John, 20, Teacher
Roderick N, 15
Frederick, 7, b. North Uist
Marion Ann Macleod, 1, Granddaughter, b. North Uist
1891 – North Uist
Ann Gillies, 60, Dressmaker
Ewan, 32, Student of Theology
John, 30, Ag Lab
Malcolm, 21, Ex Pupil Teacher, b. Skye
Frederick, 14, b. Harris(?)
Mary Ann Gillies Macleod, 11, Granddaughter
1901 – Mc Dougall’s House, Boisdale, South Uist
Frederick T Gillies, 26, Shopkeeper Grocer, b. Harris
It is evident that at least two of the Gillies’s children, Roderick b.1866 and Mary b. 1868, were born in Harris suggesting that Malcolm may have spent at least these three years teaching on the island.
The next birth, that of Malcolm in 1870, took place in Kilmuir which suggests that was the latest date that he was still teaching on Harris before teaching in Kilmuir prior to returning to North Uist.
All the earlier children are indicated as having been born on North Uist and the same is said of the final child, Frederick Thomas, if we are to believe the census of 1881. However, in the next two censuses he is clearly shown as having been born in Harris.
I am happy to confirm that his birth was registered in Harris and that he was born in 1873.
Fred Thomas must have been delighted to have the lad named after him and I would love to discover whether the two of them met before Fred’s death in 1885.