Farm Grieves of Harris

These are the Farm Grieves, or overseers (plus Farm Managers and Estate Officers/Factors) from the censuses and arranged from South to North:

John Lindsay, 40, Estate Officer, Rodil, b. Scotland
(Marrion Kerr, 20, b. Harris)
Marion is the daughter of Angus, a Shoemaker of Strond at this time.

Duncan Shaw, 60, Factor, Iponish, North Uist, b. Scotland

(Donald Stewart, 65, Farmer, Luskentire, b. Scotland)
(John R Macdonald, 30, Farmer, Rodil, b. Inverness)

John R Macdonald, 44, Factor, Rodel, b. Snizort, Inverness
Kenneth Macdonald, 30, Factor’s Clerk, Rodel, b. Applecross, Ross-shire
(Angus Kerr, 20, Farm Servant, Rodel, b. Harris)
It is wholly appropriate that the first record features the long-serving John Robson Macdonald who was the Dunmore’s Factor residing in their island home, Rodel House. Kenneth Macdonald would, 30 years hence, be the Factor based at Borve. Angus is the son of Angus, a Tenant in 1841.

John Robson Macdonald, 54, Factor of Harris Estate, Rodel House, b. Snizort, Inverness
(Alexander Macleod, 30, Retired Factor’s Clerk, Strond, b. Harris)

Alexander Macdonald, 43, Scaristavore, b. NW Inverness

Our first Farm Grieve, on the West coast, perhaps indicative of the displacement and replacement of people by sheep on the machair land?

John R Macdonald, 64, Factor, Rodel, b. Snizort, Inverness
(John Cunningham, 32, Estate Factor’s Clerk, Head, Rodel, b. Harris)
Angus Kerr, 40, Rodel, b. Harris

Angus had previously been a Farm Servant then Ploughman at Rodel so his presence as the promoted Farm Grieve follows a clear ‘career progression’!

Angus Kerr, 48, Farm Manager, Rodel Farm, b. Harris

Donald Macleod, 27, Farm Manager, S Harris, b. Harris
Malcolm Macaskill, 47, S Harris, b. Harris

Kenneth Macdonald, 64, Farmer & Factor, Big Borve, b. Applecross, Ross
John Mackenzie, 35, Big Borve, b. Harris

Angus Macvicar, 50, Farm House, N Harris, b. N Uist

Kenneth Macdonald, who has farmed Borve since it was cleared for the second-time in 1853, is now listed as the Factor. We have a couple of Farm Managers in the South as well as Farm Grieves at Borve and somewhere in the North. Discovering the date that Borve Lodge came into existence appears to be today’s uncompleted task.

Malcolm Macaskill, 50, Grieve’s House, S Harris, b. Harris
Donald Maclennan, 44, Grieve’s House, S Harris, b.

Thomas Brydon, 35, Factor, Farmhouse Luskentyre, (Leaclee), b. Dunblane, Perthshire

Robert F Matheson, 34, No 14 West Tarbert, b. Leith

Thomas Brydon was Factor of the South Harris Estate.
Where were the Grieve’s Houses, An-t-Ob, Strond, Rodel?

John Mackinnon, 33, Farm-Grieve, Farm Grieve’s House of Luskintyre, Stockinish, N Harris, b. Harris

(Margaret Macleod, 60, Wool Spinner, Cottar’s house Leac a Li, Stockinish, Grieve’s House Luskintyre Crofting Township of Leac a Li, b.Harris – 12 Macleod’s give same details)

Malcolm Macaskill, 60, (Retired), Obbe, b. Harris

Robert Sinclair, 56, Factor, N Harris, b. Buchaven, Stirlingshire

I have included Malcolm Macaskill because he was a Farm Grieve in South Harris at the time of the previous two censuses and the Macleod entry for the clues contained.

I suppose what has surprised me the most is the fact that, in a period of 50 years, we only have 13 different people recorded as Farm Grieves, Farm Managers or Factors on Harris.

The presence in 1841 of Marion Kerr in Rodel interests me. Her father was Angus the Shoemaker not Angus the Tenant who’s son Angus spent the remainder of his working life at Rodel. Therefore there were two contemporaneous Kerr families linked to the Estate over the perio 1841-1901. She married John Macaulay, the Miller of Uig, and we find the couple visiting her widowed mother in 1851. 

Oh, and Angus Kerr remained at Rodel, styling himself a ‘Retired Groom’ then ‘Retired Coachman’ before his death in 1910 at the age of 84…

Rodel House Occupants

Presented here are the occupants of Rodel House at the time of 19th Century censuses.

I have placed my comments beneath each decade’s list:

John Lindsay, 40, Estate Officer
John Lindsay, 8
Alex Lindsay, 7
Archibald Lindsay, 5
Christian Lindsay, 30
Christina Lindsay, 3
Grace Lindsay, 1
Marion Kerr, 20
Margaret Maclean, 15
Annabella Maciver, 20

John R Macdonald, 30, Farmer
Mary Macdonald, 30
Jane Macdonald, 4
Anne Mary Macdonald, 15
Elizabeth F Ando, 11
Dessie C Ando, 11
Isabella Irvine, 20

The 1841 census is not specific about addresses and I am assuming that the Estate Officer resided there. Farmer Macdonald became Factor Macdonald and is recorded as residing at Rodel house during his tenure of that role.

John R Macdonald, 44, Land Factor & JP
Mary Macdonald, 49
Jane C Macdonald, 14
Christina Macdonald, 14
Isabella Macrae, 50, Minister’s Wife, Sister
Donald Macrae, 25, Farmer of 200 acres employing 8 men & JP, Nephew
Annabella Macrae, 18, Farmer’s Wife, Niece
Neil(?) Landler, Governess
Kenneth Macdonald, 30, Factor’s Clerk
Isabella Glaser, 20, Housemaid
Ann Macdonald, 40, Cook Maid
Catherine Maclean, 25, Laundry Maid
Mary Ross, 26, Dairy Maid
Angus Kerr, 20, Farm Servant
Norman McCuish, 16, Shepherd
Alexander Macleod, 60, Barn Man
Laclan Maclean, 17, Groom
John Smith, 42, Visitor

This large household is extremely interesting because, in addition to the expected house servants, it includes several members of the agricultural workforce. It is also worth noting that the Factor’s young nephew, who appears to be the son of a Minister, occupies a position of substantial power and responsibility.

John Robertson Macdonald, 54, Factor of Harris Estate
Mary Macdonald, 49
Jane Caroline Macdonald, 24
Elizabeth Ann Macdonald, 71, Spinster
Angus Kerr, 33, Ploughman
Archibald Ferguson, 22, Ag Lab
Ewen Macleod, 20, Ag Lab
Lexy Morrison, 26, Housemaid
Kate Stewart, 30, Cook
Janet Maclennan, 30, Dairy Maid
Christy Macleod, 19, Chamber Maid
Mary Ross, 40, General Servant
Donald Ferguson, 20, Ag Lab

The household has reduced by about a third but the mixture of domestic and agrarian employees remains a feature.

John R Macdonald, 64, Factor
Mary Macdonald, 69
Jane C Macdonald, 34
Alexandria C Compite(?), Sister
Hugh Ross, 28, Shepherd
Archibald Ferguson, 30, Farm Servant
Kate Stewart, 40, Cookmaid
Christy Mackennon, 26, Housemaid
Mary Morrison, 25, Chambermaid
Mary Macleod, 24, Dairymaid

Again, the household is slightly smaller and we can see that the only land-labourer remaining resident is the shepherd.

A separate household lists Angus Kerr, 40, Farm Grieve plus his wife Lexy Kerr, 27, (MS Morrison, ex-Housemaid). I mention this partly because of my personal connection but more significantly because after 1871 there are no census returns recording the occupants of Rodel House.

Indeed, after 1871 there is no census recording a Factor residing in South Harris and the ‘highest’ position found is that of Farm Manager:

Angus Kerr, 48, Farm Manager
Lexy Kerr, 40
Marion Kerr, 8
Flora Morrison, 23, niece
Christy Gillies, 4 months, Boarder!

I am unsure of the precise factors at work here, but changes in the economy of Harris and Lewis, improved roads and the ‘pull’ towards Tarbert all played their part in the demise of this demesne.
Note: A description of historical events is given here (PDF):

Rodel Hotel History (pdf)

Current site: