HMS Shackleton/HMS Sharpshooter (1936-1965)

This was the survey vessel which, in 1958 (and 1960), came to the Sound of Harris to update the chart that had been made 100 years earlier.
The 1959 chart was published as a Revised edition of its 1859 predecessor, which surely is testament to the extraordinary skills of Captain H. C. Otter .
and the crews of 19thC survey vessels, including Captain FWL (Fred) Thomas.

HMS Shackleton was originally commissioned as HMS Sharpshooter but was renamed in 1953 in line with her new duties engaged in hydrographic surveying. She marked five datum points in Leverburgh, Harris and Bays Loch, Berneray using three cuts, a rivet (in Leverburgh) and a bolt (in Berneray).

A very full account of her history can be read here: HMS Shackleton.

Sir John Brown of Redhall, Fordoun (1856-1928)

A little over three years ago I penned a couple of pieces regarding my Stornowegian grandfather, John Kerr (1875-1936) and at last I am able to fill in some of the gaps, most notably identifying who my late father, Ian Brown Kerr, acquired his rather unusual middle name from!
The Post Office directories for Aberdeen reveal that in 1902/3 John Kerr was the manager of The Steam Herring Fleet Ltd and that in 1903/4 his role has been taken by John Brown, fish salesman, of Redhall, Fourdon. He, in turn was replaced as manager from 1904/5 until 1910/11 by A. Robertson but another entry for John Brown provided the Aberdeen address of 10 Marine Terrace in additional to that of Redhall, Fordoun.
Fortunately, the Brown family were already resident at 10 Marine Terrace at the time of the 1901 census which show the family headed by the Aberdonian 45 year old shipowner of steam vessels alongside his wife, Barbara, and their four children, one of whom is the 17 year old son John Brown who is a fishing book keeper. There are, as we might expect, also a cook and a housemaid in residence.
The Brown family’s other residence was Redhall House in Fordoun, Aberdeenshire and a little information about it appears at the RCAHMS site:
and it will make an appearance later in this tale.
Before moving forward, I should like to take a step back to the 1891 census for then the 35 year old John Brown was a fish curer living at 9 Millburn Street. The significance of the address is that, by 1901, my grandfather was lodging across the road at number 12
However it is a series of articles that appeared in the Aberdeen Journal that provide the information for what followed and I should explain at this point that I have only accessed the opening sentences (shown in italics) to each one rather than the complete articles. I have made comments where necessary but otherwise let the articles speak for themselves.
12 Oct 1904: Presentation Mr John Kerr.—Last evening John Kerr, of the Aberdeen Steam Trawling and Fishing Company, was waited upon number of friends in the Douglas Hotel and presented with handsome aneroid barometer, for himself, and a repeating carriage clock…
On the 19 October 1904 my grandparents were married so it is safe to assume that the barometer and clock were their gifts from the Aberdeen Steam Trawling and Fishing Company. This is, in fact the earliest reference that I have to my grandfather’s employment with that particular business.
1 Dec 1904: PRESENTATION TO .MR JOHN BROWN Jr.. OF REDHALL. Mr John Brown, Jr., of Redhall, was, the occasion of his attaining his majority, met last night the Imperial Hotel, Aberdeen, by the members of the office staffs of the Aberdeen Steam Trawling and Fishing…
16 May 1906: PRESENTATION TO MISS BROWN OF REDHALL received by Mr and Mrs Brown and family. Mr John Kerr made the presentation the ‘gifts, which consisted of a cabinet of Silver cutlery, a plate affixed to the cabinet bearing following inscription:—Presented to Miss Brown of Redhall the occasion of her…
Assuming this to be Elizabeth Brown, who was born in 1883, then this would have been her engagement present, presumably from the Aberdeen Steam Trawling and Fishing Company as that would explain my grandfather’s involvement. It might also have been her youngest sister. Lily’s, coming of age but I find that less likely given the nature of the gift!
23 Jul 1907: PRESENTATION TO MISS BROWN OF REDHALL The directors the Aberdeen Steam Trawling and Fishing Company, Limited—of which Mr John Brown Redhall chairman —visited Red hall yesterday for the purpose presenting wedding gift to Miss Brown the occasion approaching…
29 Jul 1907: MARRIAGE OF MISS BROWN, REDHALL. PRETTY WEDDING AT FORDOUN. An interesting and pretty wedding took place at Fordoun Parish Church on Saturday afternoon, when Miss Elizabeth Brown, daughter of Mr John Brown, of Redhall, was married William Bradley Trimmer…
26 Oct 1907: HONOUR TO MR JOHN KERR, ABERDEEN. DINNER AND PRESENTATION. Mr John Kerr, chief assistant to Messrs John Brown and Son, trawlowners and fish salesmen, Aberdeen, was entertained dinner in the Imperial Hotel last night, and made the recipient of gift from…
I am presuming that my grandfather was leaving his work as Chief Assistant to the Brown’s to take up his duties with the Congested Districts Board in Ireland.
15 Jun 1909: John Kerr, chief superintendent of fisheries, Congested District Board, Ireland, is visit at present to his family at Aberdeen. Mr Kerr had run down in health, and has been granted leave from the Board. He is disappointed being away from business this…
I don’t know the details of my grandfather’s ill health at this time, but neither did I know that he had become the Chief Superintendent of Fisheries for the Congested Districts Board of Ireland, my aunt’s birth certificate having omitted the significant word ‘chief’!
29 Jul 1918: OFFICERS’ BIOGRAPHIES Captain John Brown, Gordon Highlanders, only son Mr John Brown Redhall, has been killed in action. Captain Brown was in the Aberdeen Territorial Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders at the outbreak of war. He was partner the firm of Messrs. John Brown & Son…
This came as a shock. The 34 year old John Brown died on the 20 July 1918 and his memorial may be seen here.http://twgpp.org/information.php?id=1854547
I don’t know which John Brown my grandfather had in mind when he gave my father the middle name ‘Brown’, but the death of John Brown Jr in the later stages of World War I seems to add poignancy to him having borne the name.
5 Jun 1920: MR BROWN OF REDHALL KNIGHTED. Public Service Recognised. PIONEER OF THE TRAWLING INDUSTRY. The King,, on the occasion his birthday, has conferred the honour of knighthood on Mr John Brown of Redhall in recognition of public services not only in…
John Brown becomes Sir John Brown two years after losing his only son.
1 May 1926: SIR JOHN BROWN RETIRES. Fish Trade’s G.O.M. FORTY-THREE YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY. Sir John Brown of Redhall, the ‘Grand Old Man’ of the trawlowning community of Aberdeen, yesterday went out of harness to enjoy a well-earned retirement…
It was not to be…
30 Apr 1928: DEATH OF SIR JOHN BROWN. A Fishing Pioneer. FORTY-THREE YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY. The death has occurred, after six months’ iliness, of Sir John Brown of Redhall, Fordoun, one of the last of the pioneers of the trawl fishing and allied industries in Aberdeen…
3 May 1928: LATE SIR JOHN BROWN. Large Body of Mourners at Funeral. The high respect in which the late Sir John Brown of Redhall was held was reflected in the representative character of the large body of mourners who followed the remains from Marine Terrace, Aberdeen.
14 Jul 1928: ABERDEEN FORTUNES Sir John Brown of Redhall, Fordoun, Kincardineshire, and Marine Terrace, Aberdeen £107,521…
5 Oct 1929: NO OFFERS FOR REDHALL. The estate of Redhall, in the parishes Fourdoun and Laurencekirk, belonging to the late Sir John Brown, was offered for sale in the Douglas Hotel to-day, at a reduced… There were no offers this figure…
A very sad end to the story but I’m glad to have seen something of my grandfather’s relationship with the ‘Grand Old Man’ of Aberdeen’s trawloning industry.

I suppose it’s also a wee part of the story of Stornowegian contributions to the Scottish fishing industry, and I mustn’t finish without reminding myself that grandfather’s grandfather was a seafaring Hearach to the core!

William Anderson Smith in 1891 and 1901

I left my account of the census information with the household of 1881, despite having discovered that William was alive for another two censuses, simply because at the time I couldn’t find him!
However, a little further tweaking has produced:
1891
W Anderson Smith, 48, Head, Literature & Journalist, Rugarve Cottage, Ardchattan, Argyll, b. Perth
Mary Anderson Smith, 54, Wife, b. Cromarty
Mary Craig Sutherland, 20, Daughter, b. Inverness
Henry Torcuil Smith, 15, Scholar, b. Garston,
Bessie Anne Napier Smith, 13, Scholar, b. Glasgow
Margaret Elizabeth Gillespie, 32, General Servant, b. Knoydart, Inverness-shire
Rhugarbh, to give it its Gaelic spelling, has proved fairly elusive to locate with precision but it appears to have been between Barcaldine School House Barcaldine Old Schoolhouse and Barcaldine Mill.as seen on this map.
On the subject of language, I was slightly surprised to see that in this census return William definitely states in the column for ‘Gaelic, or G&E’ the single word ‘English’ and yet the whole of the remainder of the household are listed as having both languages. Presumably he never ‘got the Gaelic’, but allowed his offspring to learn their mother’s tongue.
Incidentally, this recent article may be of interest: http://ardchattan.org.uk/news/2009/12/15/benderloch-notes-from-the-west-highlands/
1901
Walter Bennett, 44, Head, Compositor (Print), 6 Bond St, Clerkenwell, Finsbury, b. St Andrew’s, Holborn
William A Smith, 58, Pressman, b. Perth, Scotland
As was the case with one of the earlier censuses, I cannot be absolutely certain that this is our man, but he’s the best fit and, I think, a pretty good one, too!
This Bond Street, in Clerkenwell, London, was renamed Cruikshank Street in 1938. A full account of the history may be read in the 2008 Survey of London.  I hope this brief look at William Anderson Smith in the censuses has been of some interest, it’s certainly ended a fair distance from Carloway in Lewis, and I do wonder what William and Walter were working on at the time?

William Anderson Smith (1844-1906), author of "Lewsiana; or Life in the Outer Hebrides … With illustrations" 1875

I have been reading a book which I found thanks to the British Library having placed over one million images on the Flickr photographic site, including this one.of beehive dwellings and summer shielings.
Incidentally, the library catalogue shows eight books authored by William Anderson Smith, published between 1874 and 1892.
I don’t intend providing an in-depth review of the book itself – suffice to say the tone is very much of its time, but it does inadvertently supply some useful snippets of information along the way. What did intrigue me, however, was what I discovered when I began seeking William Anderson Smith in the census records:
1851
John Smith, 51, Writer and Arithmeter, Ivy Bank, Kinnoull, Perthshire, b. Glasgow
Jane H Smith, 46, Wife, b. Greenock
William Anderson Smith, 8, Scholar, b. Perth
It is worth noting that the young William, fourth of six children listed at this time, was the son of a writer.
1861
William Smith, 18, Lodger, Mercantile Clerk, 38 Hill St, Blythswood, Glasgow Barony, b. Perth
I cannot be certain that this is our man, but he is the closest match that I can find and the ‘dropping’ of his second name would be perfectly compatible with his status as a lodger – with census information we are relying upon what the person who provided the information knew, or could remembder, about the members of their household.
1871
William Anderson Smith, 29, Head, Cod Liver Oil Manufacturer, Part of Carloway House, Carloway, Ross & Cromarty b. Perth
Now, Comann Eachdraidh Uig (Uig Historical Society) have several pieces devoted to William Anderson Smith, but I cannot see any reference to his most unusual occupation! I say that because, as far as I can ascertain, he is the sole ‘Cod Liver Oil Manufacturer’ to be recorded in Ross-shire in any census from 1841 to 1901 inclusive. I wonder how successful this venture was? This piece from the society’s site makes for interesting reading: http://www.ceuig.co.uk/history/land/the-maladministration-of-the-lews-1886/
1881
William Anderson Smith, 38, Head, Oyster Culturalist Journalist and Author, Rhugarve Cottage, Ardchattan, Argyll, b. Perth
Mary A Smith, 43, Wife, b. Cromarty
John D Sutherland, 15, Land Agent Assistant, b. Inverness
Mary Craig Sutherland, 9, Stepdaughter, b. Inverness
Henry Torcuil Smith, 5, b. England
Bessie A N Smith, 3, b. Glasgow
Mary MacGillivray, 18, Servant, b. G, Inverness-shire
Here we see the mature William with wife and family. It would appear from the information in his death certificate, that Mary was his second wife. I am unclear as to whether the Sutherland children are from William’s first marriage or whether they were his step-children, too. I could investigate in Scotland’s People but that’s for another day…
William Anderson Smith died on 22 July 1906 at the age of 62. He had been married firstly to Elizabeth Morgan and then to Mary Hoach, or Sutherland.

His late father’s occupation is given as some kind of writing master, I write ‘some kind’ because, unfortunately, I cannot make out the writing.

Renting islands in the Sound of Harris (and Taransay) 1895-1920

I have examined the Valuation Rolls to see what information they might have to tell us about these places, some of which were rented by various relatives of mine from the end of the nineteenth century for a period of about eighty years.
I’ve put the known relatives in boldfor added clarity, but have also used italic bold for a few whose identities I have yet to absolutely confirm!
1895 – Proprietor: The Trustees of The Earl of Dunmore
House and Farm, Borve, Berneray, Roderick Campbell, merchant, Strond, Obbe, Harris, £80
Lands, Island of Torogay etc, John Campbell, Strond, Obbe, Harris £30
Lands, Islands of Killigray and Langa, John Stewart, Ensay, £70
House and Farm, Rodel, Rod. Campbell, merchant, Obbe, £98
Plantation Park, Rodel, John Campbell, Strond, £12
This was the year before John Campbell married my cousin Marion Kerr. Why they were wed in the Free Church at Lonemore, Duirinish, Skye, rather than in Harris, isn’t entirely clear to me.
The Campbells were living in Strond at this time and paying a total of £220 in rent, including £30 for the use of the islands in the Sound of Harris off the coast of North Uist which appear above as Ísland of Torogay etc’.
1905 – Proprietor: The Right Hon. Alexander Edward Murray, Viscount fincastle.
Lands, Island of Torogay etc, John Campbell, farmer, Rodel, £20
Lands, Islands of Killiegray & Langa, Major William Stewart of Ensay, £70
House and Farm, Rodel, Rod. Campbell, farmer, Rodel £98
Plantation Park, Rodel, John Campbell, farmer, Rodel £12
House and Farm, Kylis, Roderick Macdonald, Merchant, £30
House and Farm, Island Taransay, John Campbell, farmer, Rodel, £150
House and Farm, Scaristaveg, Roderick Macleay, £80
House and Farm, Scaristavore, Roderick Campbell, £130
House and Farm, Borvebeg, Roderick Campbell, £65
Land, Isle Sursay, Roderick Campbell, £7
Estate Office, Obbe, Thomas Wilson, factor, £8
Post Office, House and Land, Obbe, Widow Mary Galbraith, £1 16s
By 1901 the people of Borve, Berneray had finally been able to return to the land that had been taken from them in the clearance of 1853. However, in 1905 John Campbell was still renting the islands in the Sound and doing so for ten pounds a year less than he had been paying a decade earlier! He and his father were now paying £130 for the use of those islands and the farm at Rodel, and an additional £150 for renting Taransay which John Campbell now farmed.
What is not completely clear to me is whether the Roderick Campbell paying £202 for the farms at Scaristavore and Borvebeg (plus the island of Sursay) is the same Roderick Campbell?
1915 – Proprietor: The Right Hon. The Earl of Dunmore
Lands, Vaccasay etc, Reps of Roderick Campbell, £10
Lands, Islands of Killiegray and Langa, Donald Alexander Stewart of Lochdu, Nairn, £70
House and Farm, Rodel, Ken Campbell, farmer, Rodel, £34
Plantation Park Lands, Rodel, Ken Campbell, farmer, Rodel (£37 10s for)
Islands of Torogay, Opsay etc, Ken Campbell, farmer, Rodel (both holdings)
Cottage and Farm, Island Taransay, John Campbell, Taransay, £140
Cottage and Farm, Scaristaveg, Roderick Macleay, £75
Cottage and Farm, Scaristavore, Mrs Euphemia Campbell, £120
Cottage and Farm, Borvebeg, Proprietor, £56
Land, Island of Sursay, Mrs Euphemia Campbell, £7
John Campbell was now focussed entirely upon Taransay, which he was renting for £10 less than he was paying a decade earlier, whilst his younger brother Ken had Rodel and some of islands in the Sound of Harris for which paid £71 10shillings. Why ‘Vaccasay etc’ have been separated and are being rented by his father’s representatives is unclear, but I assume that the estate had decided to split the islands into two groups?
A second point that I would like to completely confirm at some point is whether Mrs Euphemia Campbell was the second wife of Roderick Campbell, farmer at Rodel. If so,then she was Euphemia MacLennan from Finsbay, Harris; and John Campbell and Ken Campbell were her stepsons, having been born to Lizzie MacRae whose father Kenneth MacRae came from Kintail in Ross-shire.
1920 – Proprietor: The Lewis and Harris Welfare and Development Coy. Ltd.
Lands, Vaccasay, Hulmetray etc, Mrs Euphemia Campbell, widow, £10
Lands, The islands of Killigray and Langa, The Earl of Dunmore, £70
House and Farm, Rodel and islands, Ken Campbell, farmer, Rodel, £71 10s
Cottage and Farm, Island Taransay, John Campbell, £140
Cottage and Farm, Scaristaveg, Roderick Macleay, £75
Cottage and Farm, Scaristavore, Mrs Euphemia Campbell, £120
Land, Island Sursay, Mrs Euphemia Campbell, £7
John Campbell continued to live in and farm Taransay, his brother remained at Rodel and I think the fact that some of the islands in the Sound (‘Vaccasay, Hulmetray etc’) were being rented by (apparently) the same Mrs Euphemia Campbell who continued to farm Scaristavore suggests that she was indeed their stepmother. I imagine that the islands that Ken Campbell was renting as part of ‘Rodel and islands’ were those in the vicinity of Torogay?
A century ago the Campbells were paying nearly £350 in rent to the Earl of Dunmore, actively farming at Rodel, at Scaristavore and in Taransay, and renting all the islands in the Sound off the coast of North Uist.

Something in the air (or, perhaps, underwater!)?

It is strange how events, without planning or deliberate intervention, sometimes coincide:

I posted an entry on this blog on Thu 28 Nov, musing upon the recent publication of results regarding sea levels around the British Isles. .

Today, by chance, I happened upon a news entry that had been posted on the Wessex Archaeology site on Fri 29 Nov – Palaeogeographical Reconstructions – regarding a wonderful poster that they have produced detailing sea level changes around the coasts of the Sound of Harris!

The poster may be viewed online or downloaded as a pdf.
It looks fascinating, as well as very attractive, and I hope you find it so, too.

Neil Morrison – The Pabbay Bard

I thought it would be interesting to have a look at what the census information has to tell us about the life of Neil Morrison, the ‘Pabbay Bard’:
1841
Kenneth Morrison, 70, Ag Lab, Scarista, b. Inverness
Marion Morrison, 70, b. Inverness
Neil Morrison, 25, Shepherd, b. Inverness
We find the bard living with his parents in Scarista at the time of the 1841 census. According to George Henderson, in his book  ‘Leabhar nan Gleann’, Neil Morrison spent the middle segment of his working life, “…at Scarista, with Mr Macdonald…”so whether he was in fact already working for ‘Mr Macdonald’ at this time or not isn’t clear to me.
1851
Neil Morrison, 34, Shepherd, Luskintire, b. Harris
Rachel Morrison, 29, Wife, b. Kilmuir, Inverness-shire
Janet Morrison, 3, Daughter, b. Harris
Donald Morrison, 1, Son, b. Harris
Donald Morrison, 15, Servant, b. Harris
Kenneth Morrison, 96, Pauper Formerly Farmer and Merchant, b. Harris
Marion Morrison, 90, Mother, Pauper’s Wife, b. Harris
Mary McLennan, 30, Daughter(?), Occasional House Servant, b. Harris
A decade later he was in Luskentire and, presumably, shepherding on the farm of Luskentire. His Skye-born wife, Rachel, had borne him two children and he appeared to be supporting his very elderly parents at this time, too.
1861
Neil Morrison, 46, Shepherd, Cleit na Duthcha, b. Harris
Rachel Morrison, 37, Shepherd’s Wife, b. Kilmuir
Janet Morrison, 12, Daughter, b. Harris
Donald Morrison, 11, Son, b. Harris
Marion Morrison, 7, Daughter, b. Harris
Christina Morrison, 5, Daughter, b. Kilmuir, Invernessshire
Catherine MacPherson, 19, General Servant, b. Kilmuir, Invernessshire
Catherine McDermid, 17, General Servant, b. Harris
Neil morrison’s family has doubled to four, the last child having been born in his wife’s own birthplace of Kilmuir in Skye.
According to George Henderson this time spent in Cleit na Duthca “…with Mr MacRae, a son of Maigstir Fionnladh, a former minister of North Uist…” came at the start of Neil Morrison’s career but as Finlay MacRae died on 15 May 1858 then this may indeed be the correct episode?
What is perhaps worth remarking upon, is that this ‘Mr MacRae’ had an aunt living in Harris, for the Rev Finlay MacRae’s sister, Isabella, was married to James Robertson Macdonald, the Factor of Harris who was responsible for overseeing several Clearances during the Dunmore family’s ownership of the estate.
1871
Neil Morrison, 56, Shepherd, Pabbay, b. Harris
Rachel Morrison, 48, Wife, b. Skye, Invernessshire
Marion Morrison, 16, Daughter, b. Harris
Christy Morrison, 14, Daughter, b. Harris
John MacDonald, 30, Visitor, Ag Lab, b. Boreray
This is the only time that we have the ‘Pabbay Bard’ recorded living in Pabbay and Bill Lawson suggests that he probably was working in the island between 1863 and 1873.
George Henderson remarks that Neil Morrison spent the final phase of his career “…in the Isle of Pabbay, with Stewart of Ensay…”. This was John Stewart, son of Donald Stewart, Factor, farmer and the main figure behind the Clearances in Harris http://direcleit.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/stewarts-of-pairc-luskentyre-ensay.html
 
1881
Donald Morrison, 32, Shepherd, South Harris ED1, b. Harris
Mary Morrison, 30, Shepherd’s Wife, b. Loch Broom, Ross-shire
Murdo Morrison, 3, Son, b. Loch Broom
Neil Morrison, 1, Son, b. Harris
Neil Morrison, 64, Father, Shepherd, b. Harris
Our final glimpse of the bard finds him somewhere within Enumeration District 1 of South Harris and I do not, at present, know where the boundaries of that district were. The bard was living with his son Donald, who was a shepherd, and his wife Mary. She had made Neil a grandfather twice over, the first boy, Murdo, having been born in her birthplace, Loch Broom, and the second, named Neil after his grandfather, had been born in Harris.
I think it is interesting to note that this township bard was shepherding for at least two families intimately connected with the clearances that occurred in the nineteenth century in both Harris and in North Uist and I hope that these five small snapshots, and my brief comments, add something to our knowledge of his life.
Sources:

GAELIC TOWNSHIP BARDS:  AN INTRODUCTION TO THEIR SONGS AND FUNCTIONS” by Donald E. Meek  http://meekwrite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/gaelic-verse-and-song-gaelic-township.html

‘Harris in History and Legend’ by Bill Lawson (2002)

Coastline

One of the questions which interests me is that of how the coastline of the isles has changed during the time since humans settled here following the end of the last ice age.
It is a complex topic and I was delighted to stumble upon a very recent article,New models of North West European Holocene palaeogeography and inundation, in the Journal of Archaeological Science (Volume 40, Issue 11, 11 Nov 2013) which addresses that question for the whole of the British Isles. Each 500 year snapshot is presented as a map and each of these is downloadable for more detailed, local-level study.*
The key points for the Western Isles are:
11,000 – 8,000 BP
The Outer Hebrides are considerably larger than they are now, with a low lying coastal plain extending out to the West of the Uists.”
The authors note that:
…there is clear evidence for Mesolithic seafaring, with Ireland being occupied along with the Isle of Man, Rhum, the Hebridean Archipelago…
8,000 – 6,000 BP
Although the Western Isles are not specifically mentioned, the point is made that when sea levels rise:
…our understanding of terrestrial space also needs to be carefully considered; with reworking of estuarine areas and the expansion of former wetlands into open areas of sea, all serving to shape modes of transport and connectivity…”
6,000 – 4,000 BP
The extended coastal plain which surrounded the Outer Hebrides is significantly diminished in size and the islands are approaching their present configuration.”
4000 – 500 BP
At this point we really need to examine the individual maps in greater detail, but when I attempted this I was informed that the data is not yet available so, unfortunately, investigating what this model might tell us regarding the Western Isles will have to wait just a little while longer…


Castle Connection

I was looking at my Montgomery ancestry in Leurbost, Lochs, and discovered I had a 1st cousin, 3x removed, called Ann Nicolson from 7 Gravir who married John Morrison from 4 Airidhbhruaich.
John Morrison was, according to this information on the excellent Hebridean Connections site, a joiner employed by Sir Samuel Scott at Amhuinnsuidhe Castle before retiring to East Tarbert to the house he built there which is called “Burnbrae”
The couple appear to have begun their married life living with John’s father, a 66 year old tailor from Harris who was also called John, at 4 Airidhbhruaich. 

The 1881 census return includes another son, Donald (24) who was also a joiner, and two daughters, Chirsty (24) and Marion (16). The household was completed by two grandsons, William McDonald (7) and Roderick McLennan (3). John Morrison was 26 and his wife Ann was 24.
By 1891 the couple were living in North Harris with their three children, Katie Ann (7), Kenneth (5) and Ellen (2). 
1901 finds them still there but  now with a family of five: Katie Ann (17), Kenneth (15) and Helen (12), having been joined by Johann (8) and Chirsty Bella (6).
As an aside, a couple of years earlier Sir Samuel Scott’s wife had caused a ‘Society Sensation’in the upper echelons of English ‘society’, but I prefer to remember Sir Samuel as the person had the Carding Mill built at Lon na Feille, the old market stance, in Direcleit in 1900 – I wonder which joiner did the carpentry work there!?

Some more detail of the history of the castle can be read on Celtic Castles, and on my Harris Timeline.

Great Fight?

This piece began to form when I found a story, ‘Great fight’in the records of the Carmichael Watson Project. The gist of the story is that, during the reign of King Charles II (1630-1685), there was a ‘Great fight’ between men aboard competing herring fishing boats from Leith and Campbeltown. The ensuing battle, which the Campbeltown men won, apparently took place following the delivery of some ‘drink’ from Uist.
Many men from all over Britain (and Ireland) were killed and their bodies then buried (some secretly at night) in several islands in the Sound of Harris, as well as in Cheesebay in North Uist. These islands included Hermetray/Thermatraigh on which Martin Martin, in 1695, had seen:
the foundation of a house built by the English in the reign of King Charles the First’s time, for one of their magazines to lay up the cask, salt etc, for carrying on the fishery, which was then begun in the Western Islands; but this design miscarried because of the civil wars which then broke out.
I wrote of John Lanne Buchanan’s opinion of this, and other fishing developments, when discussing his  ‘General View…’ and it is clear that the building that Martin Martin saw is believed to have been built in 1633 by Charles I as an element in his attempt to foster the fishing industry in Scotland.
What intrigues me, however, is that when one looks at the image of the entry in Alexander Carmichael notebook, it appears that he may have originally ascribed the ‘Great fight’ as having occurred during the reign of Charles I (1600-1649) ,for the second ‘I’ looks very much to be an afterthought.
I wonder if Carmichael, who would have been familiar with Martin’s account of having seen the building on Hermetray, had assumed that his informant (John Morrison, a Ground Officer from Lingerbay, Harris) was talking about an event that had occurred during the time when the fishing station was in use, and that John Morrison had then clarified that it was in fact during the reign of Charles II?
It is unfortunate that we have no date for the event, but the islands where the casualties were buried are Nàrstaigh, Sàrstaigh, Suarsaigh, Bhòtarsaigh, Hermetray and Taghaigh.

And it is said that the herring never came back to these waters after the ‘Great fight’…