Fàilte! (Welcome!)

This blog is the result of my ongoing research into the people, places and events that have shaped the Western Isles of Scotland and, in particular, the ‘Siamese-twins’ of Harris and Lewis.

My interest stems from the fact that my Grandfather was a Stornowegian and, until about four years ago, that was the sum total of my knowledge, both of him and of the land of his birth.
I cannot guarantee the accuracy of everything that I have written (not least because parts are, perhaps, pioneering) but I have done my best to check for any errors.
My family mainly lived along the shore of the Sound of Harris, from An-t-Ob and Srannda to Roghadal, but one family ‘moved’ to Direcleit in the Baighs…
©Copyright 2011 Peter Kerr All rights reserved

24 thoughts on “About

  1. Hello Peter,
    I have some photographs of 56 St. Swithin Street to send to you. Please drop me an e-mail so that I have your e-mail address to send them.
    Le deagh dhùrachd, Christine

  2. Hello Peter … Your matereial is very helpful in my writing research. Thank you. One thing that might interest you is that I have long been taken by John MacAulay’s (Manish) remark to me once that Harris was once the pre-Reformation parish of Kilbride (thus St Bride’s at Scarista). I used this in my book Soil and Soul, but based on the oral testimony. I have now found written confirmation of this in the Edinburgh Gazette of March 1832 with legal information about a sale of Harris, seemingly to do with debts of Alexander Macleod. If you have any further info about the eviction of Gobha na Hearadh over to Leacali, about the well named after him there, I would be very grateful to know. Best wishes, Alastair McIntosh

    • Hello Alastair…I’m delighted that you have found my research to be of assistance to your own work. The sale of Harris was completed on the 5th of March 1834 when George Murray, the 5th Earl of Dunmore, made the purchase for £60,000. On page 554 of the Second Edition of Samuel Lewis’ ‘Topographical Dictionary of Scotland’ (pub. 1851) he states that, ‘The parish of Harris was till lately called Kilbride…’ but,unfortunately, provides neither a date nor a source! I don’t have any further detail regarding John Morrison’s eviction, but this description of his activities in 1837 may be of interest: http://direcleit.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/baptist-magazine-volume-19-1827-and.html . He was evicted sometime between 1841 & 1851 ( see http://direcleit.blogspot.co.uk/2010/02/blacksmiths-of-harris.html ) so it was either Duncan Shaw or John Robertson Macdonald who was the the Factor overseeing the event but, without a precise date, I cannot say whether it was Alexander Murray, 6th Earl of Dunmore, or his widow who was the proprietor who either ordered or, at the very least, allowed it to occur ( http://direcleit.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/harris-timeline.html ) .
      I hope that is of some use, All the best, Peter

      • Dear Peter

        Thank you very much for this triangulation of source on Harris having been the ancient Parish of Kilbride. I say, “triangulation”, because I now have your source as above from Samuel Lewis, the oral testimony of John MacAulay of Manish (from whom I first heard it and used as my Soil and Soul source), and the Edinburgh Gazette source.

        For the record, I have pasted below the Edinburgh Gazette item, both the URL and, in case it disappears from the web, the actual entry (complete with scanning errors to numerous for me to correct, but you get the gist).

        Also for the record, I have pasted right at the bottom an email from my former student, Jamie Whittle, a partner in the Inverness law firm, R & R Urquhart. I asked Jamie (who once climbed Roineabhal with me as part of his MSc human ecology degree work) what his interpretation of this Gazette entry was, and he has given me his informal opinion (his email dated 26-3-2012).


        IN • Process of Ranking and Sale railed and insisted in
        In-fore the Court of Session, at the instance of THO
        MAS JONES HOWfcLL, Enquire, of Prinknash Park, in
        theCiiiniy of Gloucester. WILLIAM EDWARD FhRHKKS,
        of Orrmvenor Place, in the County of Middlesex,
        biquire, being tiro and a quorum of the accepting and surviving
        Tmitepi under a Cnntract of Marriage, -Sated upon
        27th June 1828, entered into between Thomas Browfield
        >errer», then of Pall Mill, in the County of Middlesex,
        Kgquire, on the one part, and Miss Lavinia Hume Macleod
        or Ferrers, youngest daughter of the deceased Alexander
        Hume, Esquire, of Harrm, with the special consent of Alexander
        Niirmun Macleod, £>qiiire, nf Harris, her brother, and
        John Willum Macleod, Ksquire, also her brother, two ol
        the Cuntors nominated and appointed to her by her said
        fuller on the other part, and D ivid Sdiideman, Writer to the
        Signet, thuir Mandatory, agiinst the said Alexander Nor.
        man Mac e id, Enquire, of Hams, and others, his Creditors,
        application has been made, in terms of the A ‘t of sedenint
        17th January 1756, to Lord C irehnuse, Ordinary in i-iid
        Process, 11 hold and declare the following Subjects as included
        in the said Process of Ranking and bale, viz—The
        Patronage of the ( (lurches and Chapels ol’ the whole Lands
        of Harris, lying within the parish of Kilbride, commonly
        nallol H irns, and Shenffdomof Inverness j Avo FDHTHEB,
        the said A exander Norman Made id’s liferent-right of Superiority
        in ALL and WHOLE certain parts and portions of
        the L/inils and Kutates of Easter Aird and Kaster T.irbat,
        and others, as the same are more par icularly described in
        the titles there if, lying within the parish of Turhat, and
        late’y within the bhenfflom of Ross, but now by annexation
        w thin the Shenffdom of Cromarty; AND ALSO the
        •aid Alexander Norman Macleod’s liferent right of Super.
        Inrlty in All and Whole certain parts and portion* of the
        Lands and Barony of Mulderg and others, as the same are
        more particularly described in the titles thereof, lying within
        lha parish of Fearn, and Shire of Ross; AND ALSO
        praying Ms Lordnlup to grant warrant f>r prov nf the Rental
        and Value of the Sul>jccu_Of which application his
        Lordship, by interlocutor of 23d of February instant, ” ap-
        ” p tints intimat on of t e newly discovered s i jecu to be
        ” made to a I co cerned yadve t wmunt m the Edinburgh
        ” (iazetla, in terms of the Act of Sederunt before recited.”
        Walter Dick ton, W. S. Commun.Agent.
        Edinburgh, Febmary 24, 1832.

        Jamie Whittle’s interpretation:

        Hi Alastair – yes, this would seem part of a process to the Court of Session in Edinburgh by various creditors of Alexander Norman Macleod asking the court to include various landed interests as assets which could be sold so that the creditors to recoup their debts. As you note, it states that the Parish of Kilbride was commonly known as Harris.

        It also notes that Harris fell in the Sheriffdom (for the court system) of Inverness, and nowadays this would be the Sheriffdom of Grampian, Highland & Islands.

        How interesting! The Edinburgh Gazette is still in regular circulation and I post notices in it for clients from time to time, normally in relation to farming partnerships, and use it as the reference for various judicial review matters in planning law.


  3. Hello Peter

    I have just finished reading the Crowdie and Cream trilogy, which I thought was a marvellous memoir of pre-war life on Harris. The third book ends rather abruptly and I am keen to know what happened to Finlay in later life, beyond the rather sketchy Wikipedia entry. Do you know a source for his life? Are his family still on Harris?

    Best wishes and thanks

  4. hi there, thanks for following my blog. I’m from Scotland too, I also spent some time on Ffionfort on the Isle of Mull, Scotland is such a lovely place. Look forward to following your blog, looks very interesting.

  5. Hi Peter,
    I came across your research when investigating Captain FWL Thomas’s research in Orkney. It would be great if you could drop me an email as I’ve got a few questions about his biography and thought you might know more.
    All the best,

  6. Do you know the material about George Thomas and FWL Thomas in Derek Flinn, Travellers in a Bygone Shetland, Edinburgh 1989; and the account of George in G.S. Ritchie, The Admiralty Chart …, London 1967? Your site is full of interest for those of us fascinated by these Thomases.

    • Hi Brian, thank you for your very kind comment and, no, I hadn’t discovered either of those sources but will endeavour to do so now that you have alerted me to them. Fred & Fanny Thomas continue to fascinate me, too!

      • I am interested in this item on your site: ‘1850 In Alloa, according to letters from FWL to Petrie regarding archaeology of Orkney Isles’.
        Can you tell me where these letters are?

  7. Hi Brian, I am kicking myself as I cannot currently locate the source, and hence the letters, but confirmation of Thomas’s location may be seen at the link below. He must have used the address HMS Woodlark, Alloa for me to have used it for locating both Thomas and the vessel at that time, and it will have been an online source, but I am currently at a loss!


  8. Hi Peter

    My name Alexander Stewart and I live in Tong.
    Charles Stewart in 1881 census was my Great-Great Grandfather

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