>Bald’s 1805 Map of Harris – A Summary

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I think it sometimes helps readers if I provide a page of links to pieces on a particular theme and in this instance have decided to collate my research regarding this wonderful map, the image of which can be explored on the National Library of Scotland site: http://maps.nls.uk/counties/detail.cfm?id=660
I have put the links into six separate groups but all the pieces are interrelated so, depending upon where you choose to start and which aspects you find interesting , you will find yourself following your own meandering path through them.
Asbestos & William MacGillivray
The Revd. Bethune & other people
Annotations including, perhaps, some by the 7th Earl of Dunmore?
Bald’s Map & FWL Thomas’s Chart
Togail Tir
Placenames
Note:
The only previous research into this map of which the NLS & I are aware was that performed by James B Caird, published in 1988 in ‘Togail Tir’. If any reader happens to be researching the map, and especially if they have knowledge of this copy’s whereabouts between its creation sometime in the 19thC and its surfacing in 1988, then please do get in touch.

>Captain FWL Thomas & Malcolm Gillies

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‘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
Mary, 60
Malcolm, 35
Norman, 15
Marion, 25
1851 – Cladach Carinish , North Uist
Malcolm Gillies, 40, Tea Dealer in Retail, b. Kilmuir, Skye, Inverness
1861 – North Uist
Malcolm Gillies, 50, Gaelic Teacher, b. County Bracadale, Inverness-shire
Ann, 32, b. Trumisgary , Inverness-shire
Marion, 7, b. Trumisgary – as were her 4 siblings below
Mary, 6
Murdoch, 4
Ewen, 2
John, 11 months
Malcolm Gillies, 61, Gaelic Teacher, b. Brackadle, Inverness-shire
Ann, 38,
Marion, 14
Murdoch, 13
Ewan, 11
John, 9
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
Anne, 51
Marion, 27, Sewing Mistress
Mary A, 13
Ewen, 22, Arts Student
John, 20, Teacher
Roderick N, 15
Malcolm, 10
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
And finally:
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.

>’The Living Voice’

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This is the title of Michael Robson’s brilliant essay in ‘Togail Tir ‘, the 1989 book that is a treasure for those of us with an interest in the mapping of the isles and matters arising from such mapping.
On page 102 of the book and with regard to the recording of placenames by the Ordnance Survey, he writes, ‘The islanders who helped were recorded by name, and it would be an interesting and worthwhile task to identify them all.’ which is precisely what I intend to do for one such individual.
Robson records ‘Angus Shaw, at Strond’ as the man who helped so what can we learn of Angus?
There are a few possible candidates for this man but the one who appears to be the best fit appears in the censuses as shown below (People in bold are those who appear more than once over time)
1841 – Strond
Angus Shaw, 25
Mary Shaw, 25
Christian Shaw, 1
1851 – Geocrab
Angus Shaw, 42, Gamekeeper
Una Shaw, 36
Christy Shaw, 10
Duncan Shaw, 8
Alexander W Shaw, 6
Donald Shaw, 4
John Shaw, 1
1857 – Charts of the Sound of HarrisSound of Harris (Otter) & East Loch Tarbert (Thomas)
1861 – Ardslave
Angus Shaw, 50, Gamekeeper
Winford Shaw, 40
Christina Shaw, 20
Duncan Shaw, 17
Donald Shaw, 13
John Shaw, 11
Anne Shaw, 7
1871 – Strond
Angus Shaw, 64, Gamekeeper
Una Shaw, 58
Duncan Shaw, 25
Alex Shaw, 25
Donald Shaw, 21
John Shaw, 19
Anne Shaw, 17
1875-77 Ordnance Survey surveying Harris
1881 – Strond
Angus Shaw, 70, Crofter
Ann Shaw, 60
Alexander Shaw, 34
Anna Shaw, 24
Donald Shaw, 32
Rachel Shaw, 12, Granddaughter
Angus Mackay, 10, Grandson
John McDermid, 80, Brother-in-law
1891 – Strond
Una Shaw, 79, Crofter
Alexr Shaw, 40
Anne Shaw, 32
Rachel Shaw, 22
1901 – Strond
Alexander Shaw, 45, Crofter
Anne Shaw, 36, Sister
Rachel Morrison, 30
Angus Mackay, 25, Nephew
Peggy Mcsween, 12, Granddaughter
I am sure that this is the same family, followed from 1841 onwards, and am reasonably sure that this is indeed the Angus Shaw who assisted the Ordnance Survey.
Whether his wife, ‘Mary’, died and he remarried Una/Winford(?)/Ann could be discerned from an examination of their Death Certificates, plus those of the daughter Christian and one of the later children, should one wish to do so.
However, I am happy to present Angus Shaw, born circa 1810, a Gamekeeper in South Harris and father of six, as my first contribution to this ‘…interesting and worthwhile task…’ !
Notes: Robson also discusses the roles of Alexander Carmichael and FWL Thomas and I remind readers of the gem that is Bald’s 1804/5 Map of Harris & of my less-shiny attempt at a prose-poem on landscape.

>NOTICE OF A REMARKABLE SOLAR RAINBOW

>BY CAPT. F. W. L. THOMAS, R.N.

30th May 1861 – Noon: left Loch Tarbert, Harris.
8 P.M. it fell calm when we were four miles from Rodel, Harris.
There were a few trifling showers, and the air was beautifully clear.
At 8.15, when the sun’s altitude was about ten degrees, a brilliant rainbow (C) formed; – its estimated altitude was 40 degrees.
Where the arch joined the horizon (A B) its colours were very bright.
A secondary bow (D) also formed, with the usual characteristics.
But, what must be very unusual, a third or extraordinary bow – (E) appeared.
The extraordinary and primary bow arose from the same points of, and were coincident with, the horizon; from whence the legs of the extraordinary bow rose almost perpendicularly, but bending gradually into a broad elliptic arch, whose summit, estimated at 70 degrees of altitude, was above that of the secondary bow.
The colours of the extraordinary bow were in primary order; less bright than the primary, but brighter than the secondary bow.
Neither the summits of the secondary nor extraordinary bows were ever very distinct.
The phenomenon lasted about half an hour.
A sketch of the arrangement is here drawn. (Please see embedded page)

Note: An old sailor informed me that he once witnessed a similar appearance of rainbows in the West Highlands. And in the Enc. Met. Mety., p. 171, is quoted a description of a like phenomenon, seen by Dr Halley from the walls of Edesten; but in which the extraordinary bow contracted until the upper portion of the arch became coincident with the upper portion of the secondary bow, when, from the order of the colours being contrary, the blending of the two produced white light.
Source: Journal of the Scottish Meteorological Society, Volume 1, Nos I-XII, 1866. p270

Note: He had completed surveying ‘East Loch Tarbert’ 4 years earlier, and the West Coast from the ‘Sound of Harris to Lochs Tarbert & Resort’ in1860, so the precise purpose of this voyage is uncertain we can be sure that Fred Thomas had been putting the time to good use, perhaps even collecting Webs with his wife?

>My Five-Penny Worth

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On April 14th 1884 the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland included a contribution called ‘What is a Pennyland? Or Ancient Valuation of Land in the Scottish Isles’
by Captain FWL Thomas RN, FSA Scot.
The first part of his conclusion reads:
‘At a very early period, probably from the time of the invasion of Harold Fairhair, the arable lands of the uthalmen…were for the support of the Earl’s government, assessed for skatt or tax.
The divisions of the arable lands of the former Celtic inhabitants, each called a dabach, were assessed to pay a Norwegian ounce of silver; from which circumstance each division so paying was called an Ounceland.
Each ounceland was, for the purpose of assessment, divided into eighteen parts, each paying 1/18th of an ounce of Norwegian silver, which was equal in weight to one English penny, from which each subdivision was called a Pennyland.
Neither ounce nor penny land was a measure of surface, but of produce.’
Which is how the townships of Fivepenny in Ness and Fivepenny Borve in Barvas came to be so-called.
Today, ‘Fivepenny Park’ ‘Fivepenny Park’ is the home of Ness Football Club, but whether their current collection of silverware would be sufficient to pay the tax or not, I couldn’t possibly say!

The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Review…

…By Sylvanus Urban, Gent. Vol III January-June 1860.

On page 481 of this fine publication (that was begun nearly 130 years earlier by Edward Cave using the same pseudonym that remained in use even after his death!) we have an account of a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries that had taken place on the 12th of March. The first communication to be read was this:


Notes of Antiquities in the Isle of Harris; with plans and drawings. By Captain F. W. L. Thomas, R.N., Corr. Mem. S.A. Scot.

Captain Thomas gave an interesting description, with careful drawings, of groups of the “bee-hive” houses in Harris, examined by him in the course of last summer. These primitive buildings are wholly of stone, and are probably the work of the early inhabitants, and yet in Uig they are still the summer abodes of a portion of the people; and Captain Thomas gave an account of the curious social arrangements which the diminutive size of the houses renders necessary, the doors being only about two feet square. A very remarkable example occurs in the Long Island, where twelve of the houses are built close to each other, with doors and passages from the one to the other, and forming probably the abode of several families. Captain Thomas considers these houses to be the Scottish or Irish type of the earliest domestic artificial dwelling in the islands. In the outer Hebrides are to be found examples of the abodes called in Orkney  “Picts’ houses;” and one of them at Nisibost, in Harris, was recently excavated, consisting of a pear-shaped chamber, with two bee-hive houses in connection with it, of which Captain Thomas produced a plan. In this house were found part of a quern, bits of native pottery, and bones of the ox, sheep, deer, seal, and dog. Near the “Picts’ house” is a cromlech, probably giving name to the place—” Hangerbost.” It consisted of seven stones placed in a circle, covered by a capstone; and under it was found a human skeleton, of which the skull was removed, and now presented to the Society. This relic is by the inhabitants attributed to the Fingalians.
Some discussion ensued, in which Mr. Milne Home, Mr. Robert Chambers, Mr. Joseph Robertson, and Mr. Stuart took part. The latter described a circular underground house recently discovered in Forfarshire, and suggested the great importance of following the example of Captain Thomas, in preserving plans and drawings of these remains on being first discovered.
‘Hangerbost’ is (I hope!) Horgabost but that is not what caught my attention: It was the fact that this document  firmly states that Captain Thomas was performing these studies ‘in the course of last summer’, i.e in 1859. This is the first time that I have been able to say with certainty that he (and most likely Mrs Thomas too) were in a particular part of Harris at a particular time. I am allowing myself the imaginative leap of Fanny Thomas visiting her friends the Davidson family at Manish Free Church, popping-into the Embroidery School at An-t-Ob and meeting the many Stocking Knitters of Strond, too, whilst Fred was busy diligently recording (for the first time) the archaeology of Harris…
…and doing so in a manner that led ‘Mr Stuart‘ to suggest ‘…the great importance of following the example of Captain Thomas, in preserving plans and drawings of these remains on being first discovered.’

DID THE NORTHMEN EXTIRPATE THE CELTIC INHABITANTS OF THE HEBRIDES IN THE NINTH CENTURY ? BY CAPT. F. W. L. THOMAS, R.N., F.S.A. SCOT.

You will have to forgive me for dancing a metaphorical jig upon discovering this document online at the

Archaeology Data Service
Department of Archaeology 
University of York
King’s Manor
York YO1 7EP

Proceedings of the Society, April 10, 1876
DID THE NORTHMEN EXTIRPATE THE CELTIC INHABITANTS OF THE HEBRIDES IN THE NINTH CENTURY ? BY CAPT. F. W. L. THOMAS, R.N., F.S.A. SCOT.

This paper from the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland is to be found in Volume 11 of their Proceedings and this is the link to the PDF file where you can read the original document.

In his paper, Fred Thomas explores in great detail the Norse origins of the placenames of the isles and even lists the number of people with each surname found in North Uist & Harris.
(This gave me quite a surprise for he counts 46 Kerr folk on Harris in, presumably, 1876 yet the censuses of 1871 & 1881 returned merely 37 and 27 respectively whilst that of 1861 showed 56? A check of other names suggests that he used the 1861 Census figures for his table (he earlier alludes to this with respect to Lewis) and that ’46’ was simply a mis-transcription of the ’56’ then present.)

But I digress, this paper by the retired 60 year-old is a fascinating read and certainly the most thorough account of the placenames of Harris that I have yet found – and it’s only 135 years old!

(Source: As cited above – from the Archaeology Data Service (Copyright Statement) )