North Uist Weavers & Weaveresses

I thought I would take a wee look at the census records for those engaged in weaving in North Uist:
1841 Male – 2 Female – 21 Total – 23
1851 Male – 6 Female – 103 Total – 109
1861 Male – 2 Female – 63 Total – 65
1871 Male – 2 Female – 89 Total – 91
1881 Male – 3 Female – 102 Total – 105
1891 Male – 1 Female – 132 Total – 133
1901 Male – 0 Female – 76 Total – 76
What strikes me is that the pattern in North Uist is remarkably similar to that in Harris where weaving throughout the nineteenth century was primarily a female occupation. My analysis for Harris can be read here.
Incidentally, about a quarter (26 of 103) of the women weaving in 1851 describe themselves to be a ‘Hand Loom Weaver’ this number falling to 2 in 1871 and rising to only 6 in 1881 before disappearing from the censuses altogether.
I discussed the recording of these ‘HLW’s in this earlier piece.
Incidentally, it is also only in the 1891 census that we see the word ‘tweed’ appended to the weaving role and, indeed, there are only 5 weavers in that year (and only 1 a decade later) who refer to their produce as ‘tweed’.I think this further emphasises that the marketing of woollen produce as ‘tweed’ only starts to occur in the islands as we approach the end of the century.

I discussed this more fully in this piece regarding aspects of the development of the Harris Tweed industry in Harris.

2 thoughts on “North Uist Weavers & Weaveresses

  1. Very interesting! I believe towards the middle of the 20th century (to judge from friends’ stories) there were many men weaving to supplement household income?

    • Aye, developments in the 20thC would be interesting to chart. What I find intriguing is the difference during the 19thC between the situation in Lewis and that in Harris and North Uist. For example, I had many female relatives weaving in Harris, but no male ones.

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