>by Thomas Scott Muir 1861
‘Any one—a surveyor of taxes, a runner with the post, an old way-worn creature carrying a bolster of kelp to a Stornoway customer, or the like—who happened to go through Oab on the morning of Thursday, the eighth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-eight, must have been more taken up with his own affair than that of his neighbour, if he did not suspect from the unusual stir at the door of its little inn, that somewhat quite out of the common was toward.
And so there was; for “the doctor”—as that arch-inventor Michael, my travelling servitor had dubbed me—was going to Hirt, and the thing in the course of its development having been industriously bruited, along with a signification of the doctor’s willingness to accommodate all comers, the minister out of Scarista-Bheag, the schoolmaster of Oab, and Donald Mackinnon, the minister’s man—a native of the island, and therefore no less valuable an accessary—were down on the spot, preordinately resolved and made ready to share in the perils of the expedition.’
This snippet gives a flavour of the tone of this description of the ‘Long Island’ from 1858.
I am particularly pleased that he mentions ‘a runner with the post’ for my cousin Roderick was a Post Runner in Strond around this time whilst Donald Mackinnon, ‘the minister’s man’ might well be the husband of the School Mistress of 1851:
Isabella Mackinnon, 31, School Mistress, Wife, Obe, ED3, b. Harris
(Donald Mackinnon, 39, Catechist & Farmer, b. Harris plus 5 children ages 1 to 10 and a female ‘House Servant’)
and ‘the schoolmaster of Oab’ was possibly James Stewart:
James Stewart, 40, Parish Schoolmaster, Oab, ED6, b. South Uist
(Margaret Stewart, 34, Wife, b. Harris plus 7 children ages 5 months to 12 years and a female ‘General Servant’),
these two appearing in the earlier piece on ‘Schooling along the Sound of Harris.