>’…one pound sterling a-head…’

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On the 2nd of September, 1841, the Caledonian Mercury reported:
EMIGRATION. – There are three ships at Lochmaddy, North Uist, taking in emigrants from the neighbouring parishes of Harris and South Uist, for Cape Breton. The Earl of Dunmore gives one pound sterling a-head to the most destitute families from his property.
(Sourced from Inverness Reference Library via Am Baile’s newspaper archive search facility)
The Scots To Canada Web Site lists three ships, the Banffshire, the George and the Tay, leaving Lochmaddy in August 1841 ‘taking 1300 emigrants from N Uist to Cape Breton. ” of the poorest class”.’ so I think that we can be reasonably confident that these are the same vessels that appeared in the newspaper’s article.
The 6th Earl of Dunmore, Alexander Edward Murray, , had inherited Harris upon the death of his father on the 11th of November 1836 and would in turn be succeeded by his son, Charles Adolphus, following the 6th Earl’s death on the 14th of July 1845 . Thus the Earl was about halfway through his proprietorship of the island when he was providing a pound per person for those electing to leave.
But what does that ‘one pound sterling a-head’ of 1841 represent 170 years later?
To try to discover an answer I will examine three options, starting with the excellent  Measuring Worth site and see what values it provides us with:
In 2009, the relative worth of £1 0s 0d from 1841 is:

£72.10 using the Retail Price Index (RPI)
£105.00 using the GDP Deflator
£766.00 using the Average Earnings
£1,160.00 using the Per-Capita GDP
£2,690.00 using the Share of GDP
Faced by these five options, ranging from mere £72 to a more substantial £2700, it is important that we choose the correct comparison. The RPI is rather narrow and a better indication of the buying power of £1 in 1841 is given by the £105 of the GDP Deflator.
The remaining three indicators, including that of ‘Average Earnings’ (which might appear particularly attractive) are actually not appropriate in the current context.
Using the the National Archives tool for the same calculation will show you that £1 in 1840 would only buy £44.10 worth of goods today so my choice of the figure of £105 might appear, if anything, slightly over-generous?
Our third option is to look at what the Reverend John Macivor had to say about wages on Harris in The New Statistical Account of 1845*:
Farm-servants receive from L.3 to L.3, 10s. in the half-year…’ so our £1 would represent between perhaps 1/7th & 1/6th (14-17%) of such a man’s annual income. We may also wish to note that the annual value of all the Produce of the island is given by the Reverend as ‘L. 11,900’ and that over 10% of that, ‘L. 1300′, even as late as 1845, was still coming from Kelp.
So, depending upon how you choose to compare it, the Earl’s £1 per person was equivalent to either a miserly £44 in today’s money, or even as much as two-months wages for an agricultural labourer of the time!
Perhaps, though, to attempt to place any monetary value upon the Earl’s inducement is rather to miss the point:
People were being ‘required’ to leave because so many had been forced to live crowded-together upon the meanest of land to make way for the ever-expanding sheep farms which, the Reverend helpfully informs us, were bringing in a an income of some £2800, or almost a quarter of Harris’s total income from Produce at that time.
The population of the Parish of Harris in 1841 was 3,056** according to the census earlier that year.
Even if every person had elected to emigrate, the ‘one pound sterling a-head’ would only have amounted to three-quarters of one year’s income from Kelp & Sheep combined…
(Note: I appreciate that not all of the income from Produce went to the proprietor himself, but consider the comparison to be justified in demonstrating the affordability of his scheme with respect to the economy.)
Sources:
*New Statistical Account of Scotland, Vol XIV, p157
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>Enumeration Districts of Harris in 1911

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I have previously written of the useful information to be found lurking in the Header pages of Census images that one views on ScotlandsPeople as may be seen in these pieces relating to 1851 and 1871.
The 1911 header pages unfortunately do not appear to have maintained the previous practice of allowing the Minister of the Parish space to make his (often extensive & always interesting) comments.
However, the Headers do include useful Summary pages and continue the practice introduced in 1891 of including data on Gaelic and Gaelic & English speakers.
I am looking at the data from just three of the Enumeration Districts (purely because the people whose records I have had cause to investigate so far all lived in just these three areas).
Enumeration District 2 South Harris – includes Strond
357 people, 156 male, 201 female (43.7% male, 56.3% female)
Gaelic 91, G&E 247
338 speakers (94.7% of population) of whom Gaelic 26.9%, G&E 73.1%
Enumeration District 5 South Harris – includes ‘Kylis’ & Kintulavig
298 people, 142 male, 156 female (47.7% male, 52.3% female)
Gaelic 81, G&E 188
269 speakers (90.3% of population) of whom Gaelic 30.1%, G&E 69.9%
Enumeration District 4 North Harris – includes ‘Kendibeg & Dereclet’
156 people, 80 male, 76 female (51.3% male, 48.7%female)
Gaelic 25, G&E 122
147 speakers (94.2% of population) of whom Gaelic 17.0%, G&E 83.0%
Discussion
I am reluctant to draw strong conclusions from just three samples but the broad similarity for the Gaelic/G&E figures in the two Southern districts certainly contrast with that from their Northern neighbour. Many factors will be at play here including the age distribution (especially the proportion of people of school age pre & post the 1874 Education Act), the location of the schools and the ability for the children to have attended both for financial and physical reasons. The island’s teachers from the previous decade are to be seen in this piece from my series on Education in Harris. Also, does the lower proportion of ‘speakers’ in District 5 as compared to the other two districts indicate a greater proportion of pre-verbal infants there, perhaps?
A complex topic and I hope that this brief incursion into it has been of some interest.
Finally, an illuminating extract from the Description page for District 4 of North Harris:
‘A road leads from the foot of the Leachan Road to the little pier at east loch Tarbert in front of the Old Post Office in the March between North Harris and South Harris, the said house being in South Harris though it is in the Registration district of North Harris, the same road leads to the little pier at West Tarbert, it pass in front of the new post office, which is also in South Harris though in the Registration district of North Harris. The Old Post Office and the new Post Office are in South Harris, though in the Registration District of North Harris.’
The Enumerator who wrote that paragraph was Mr Finlay Macleod and we can only guess at the point he was making to his census superiors by including it as his only comment on the roads etc of this District!

>South Harris Estate – The Final Dunmore Years & A Review of 1834-1919

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You may recall that, in 1868, Charles Adolphus Murray, the 7th Earl of Dunmore, had relinquished ownership of the North Harris Estate to his bankers, in particular the Scott family.

Thus for the next forty years, until his death on the 27th of August 1907, the Earl’s interest in the island was confined to his South Harris Estate.

He was succeeded by his son, Alexander Edward Murray, but this 8th Earl of Dunmore was to finally sell the estate in 1919 marking the end of his family’s involvement in the island some 85 years after his great grandfather had initially bought Harris. (As an aside, the purchaser in 1919 was Lord Leverhulme who paid £20,000 for the Estate. Following his death only six years later it was sold at auction for £900.)

In fact, the 8th Earl was a soldier and it was really only the in years 1908-1914 that he was able to devote time to his Harris estate for he played an active and distinguished role in the First World War prior to lord Leverhulme’s purchase a year after the end of that bloody and, for the islands, especially debilitating conflict.

Thus ended the Murray family’s ownership that may be conveniently divided into seven eras:

The 5th Earl
1834 – 5th March, George Murray, 5th Earl of Dunmore buys Harris for £60,000
1834 – Duncan Shaw replaces Donald Stewart as Factor

The 6th Earl
1836 – Alexander Murray, 6th Earl of Dunmore, inherits Harris
1836/7 – Poor harvests, particularly of Potatoes
1838/9 – Seilibost, Big Borve, Middle Borve and Little Borve cleared
184? – Raa on Tarasaigh Cleared for John Macdonald, tacksman
1843 – Church of Scotland fragments in Disruption – islanders join Free Church of Scotland
1843 – 6th Earl of Dunmore considers a harbour at W Loch Tarbert, with a link to the E Loch
1844 – John Robson Macdonald becomes Factor of Harris

The Dowager Countess
1845 – Alexander, 6th Earl, dies and Catherine, his wife, is ‘Tutor’ for her son, 7th Earl of Dunmore
1846 – Potato Famines begin
1847 – Borve, Harris resettled.
1849 – Countess of Dunmore establishes the Embroidery School at An-t-Ob
1851 – Crofts at Direcleit and Ceann Dibig bisected to provide homes for people cleared from Borve on Berneray
1851 – Potatoes Famines end.
1852 – Highland and Islands Emigration Society(HIES) formed – 742 leave Harris for Australia
1853 – Borve, Harris cleared again
1853 – Manish Free Church built
1854 – Road from Stornoway to Tarbert completed

The 7th Earl’s Limited Period*
1857 – 24th March – 7th Earl of Dunmore’s 16th Birthday
1857 – Lady Dunmore and Mrs Thomas start Stocking-Knitting industry
1858 – ‘In 1858 Lady Dunmore was a mother to her people in Harris.’ – Duchess of Sutherland writing of ‘The Revival of Home Industries’ in ‘The Land Magazine’, Vol 3, 1899.
1860s – Direcleit and Ceann Dibig cleared

*This marks the period during which, although he was still five years away from being of ‘Full Age’, the Earl would have had enjoyed enhanced rights regarding his property under Scottish law.

The 7th Earl
1862 – 24th March – 7th Earl of Dunmore’s 21st Birthday
1863 – Ardvourlie Castle built as Hunting Lodge for North Harris Estate
1865 – Harris Hotel built by Earl of Dunmore and originally called Tarbert Hotel
1866 – Marriage of 7th Earl to Lady Gertrude Coke
1867 – Abhainnsuidhe Castle built by Earl of Dunmore
1867 – North Harris Estate sold to Sir Ernest Scott for £155,000 (over two-and-a-half times what the 5th Earl of Dunmore had paid for the whole of Harris 33 years earlier!)
1871 – Alexander Edward Murray (8th Earl) born

The 7th Earl – South Harris Estate
1873 – Dunmore’s restore St Clement’s church
1882 – Nov/Dec –Thomas Brydone becomes Lord Dunmore’s Factor
1884 – Direcleit and Ceann Dibig recrofted
1886 – Catherine, Countess of Dunmore (7th Earl’s mother) dies in February
1886 – Telegraph Cable from Port Esgein, Harris to North Uist laid
1888 – Assisted emigration to Canada established
1897 – Golden Road linking Tarbert and Rodel through the Bays is completed
1897 – Manish Victoria Cottage Hospital built & endowed by Mrs Frances Thomas

The 8th Earl
1907 – Death of Charles Adolphus Murray, 7th Earl of Dunmore
1919 – South Harris Estate sold for £60,000.

The first point that I need to make is that, as a result of the estate(s) being owned by four successive Earls punctuated by the Dowager Countess’s period as ‘Tutor’, there is a degree of confusion to be found in some writing about Harris (Yes, including my own!) and I hope that the selected extract from my Timeline shown above helps to clarify things.

(A similar problem exists with the previous dynasty of owners where we have, in turn, Captain Alexander Macleod, Alexander Hume Macleod & then Alexander Norman Macleod owning the island from 1779-1790, 1790-1811 & 1811-1834 respectively!)

Secondly, it is really the role of two generations, those of the 6th & 7th Earls from 1836-1845 and 1845-1907 respectively, upon which we should focus:

1836-1845
Alexander Murray, 6th Earl of Dunmore, inherits the island and with it the first hint of the food crises that would, coincidentally, start the season after his death and dominate the early years of his widow’s control of the estate. He appears to do the islanders a favour in replacing the hated Factor Donald Stewart with Duncan Shaw Factor but the series of Clearances that Shaw oversaw suggests otherwise. The one good thing that the 6th Earl did consider doing was a revival of Captain Alexander Macleod’s plan to link East & West Loch Tarbert but he, just like the good Captain before him, died soon after having had this notion.

1862-1907
No, this is not an error but I want to look at these years before returning to what I believe to be the defining decades of the Dunmore dynasty.

The first five years see the finally fully fledged 7th Earl embark on an overambitious building program, gain a wife and lose an estate. I say ‘lose’ because, although it might appear that having sold North Harris for 250% of the sum his grandfather had paid for the whole island he had done rather well in the deal, it is believed that little or no cash was actually exchanged. The estate was provided in payment of monies that were owing to the Earl’s bankers.

It is worth noting that he wasn’t the first grandson to have to ‘sell’ land on Harris for Alexander Norman Macleod had preceded him in this regard when being forced to sell the whole island. In his case, the purchaser had been…the 5th Earl of Dunmore. It was also this Macleod who had brought Donald Stewart to Harris to act as his Factor.

The consequence of this was that, for the final forty years of his life, the 7th Earl only owned the South Harris Estate and thus could focus his attention upon that part of the island. There is, frankly, scant evidence of him paying the island any attention at all other than as a plaything and virtually none after his mother’s death in 1886. The few developments that did take place can all be ascribed to sources other than him.

1845-1862
As alluded to above, the Dowager Countess was greeted in the year following her husband’s death by the first of the Potato Famines that would last through to 1851 and lead, in part, to 742 people leaving Harris for Australia the following year. Borve on Harris was resettled, and then it & Borve on Berneray were Cleared. In amongst this turmoil the Countess decided to establish her Embroidery School at An-t-Ob which seems to have more in common with a child-labour sweat-shop than a serious attempt at addressing the economic issues facing the islanders.

She met their spiritual needs by finally acceding to demands for a Free Church to be built (although the site at Manish was not their first-choice) having claimed ignorance of all previous requests.

In the year of her son’s sixteenth birthday she and Mrs Thomas started the Stocking Knitting industry which appears to have been more financially robust for the women of the island than the Embroidery School of the previous decade. This event marks our first record of the latter lady’s presence on the isle, a presence that in my opinion was of great significance especially with regard to the early marketing of what was to become known as Harris Tweed.

Finally, in 1860, Direcleit and Ceann Dibig were cleared with a favoured few being allowed to dwell there as cottagers…

Overall what strikes me is not what the four Earls and one Countess are remembered for having done, but rather all that they failed to do and chief amongst these must be their not having established Tarbert as a fishing station with the two lochs linked by canal or rail.
One can only guess at the income it would have generated for the island and its owners and at what it might have cost, but it would certainly have been a wiser investment than the 7th Earl’s castle which was to prove so dear…

>A Special Set of Links

>Although I think I deserve some small credit for having seen the potential in the peculiarities of the Scotland Census transcriptions in allowing one to perform larger-scale genealogical analyses, it is to another blogger that I owe my gratitude for realising that a blog might be a suitable vehicle in which to publish my results.

He is a prolific blogger and, although we frequently include links to each-others work, I thought it entirely appropriate to provide this comprehensive list of his various blogs:
First World War
Faces from the Lewis War Memorial – lists the casualties from the Isle of Lewis
Iolaire Disaster 1919 – lists the casualties and survivors of the sinking of HMY Iolaire
Lewismen in Canadian service – lists all those from the Isle of Lewis known to have served in the CEF
Wargraves in Lewis – shows the wargraves, and war-related private graves in Lewis cemeteries
Isle of Lewis War Memorials – shows the war memorials in Lewis and transcriptions
Roll of Honour – lists all those who served (and died) from Lewis
Lewismen from the 2nd Seaforths – lists those who served with the 2nd Seaforth with transcripts from the war diary of that regiment
Lewismen at HMS Timbertown – islanders interned at Groningen, Holland

Other islands
Harris War Memorial (WW1 and WW2)
Berneray to Vatersay Tribute (WW1 and WW2, Berneray, North Uist, Grimsay, Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay and Barra)
Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery (pictures and information on all the casualties buried in that cemetery in Orkney)

Second World War
World War II casualties from Lewis

Reports from the Napier Commission
Transcriptions of the 1883 Napier Report
Napier Commission in the Outer Hebrides
Napier Commission in the Isle of Skye
Napier Commission in Orkney
Napier Commission in Shetland
Napier Commission in Sutherland
Napier Commission in Ross-shire [work in progress]

Lewis and Harris witnesses to the Napier Commission


Local history blog
Pentland Road

Personal blog
Atlantic Lines

He also contributes to the Western Isles War Graves (forum) and Western Isles War Memorials (forum)

>A Small Boy in Aberdeen

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The 1911 Census marks a significant point in my researches because it is the first to include my Dad. There is something slightly strange about seeing one’s father listed as a 4 year-old boy and especially so as all my grandparents were already dead by the time I myself was 4 and hence, although I have ‘met’ them in the censuses, they exist only as shadows in my mind.
I do not intend to dwell upon the details of the household at 56 St Swithin Street (save to say that my dad’s two aunts were both Teachers and that the Boarder at his grandmother’s house taught Science at Gordon’s College), but look instead at the occupations of the neighbours at numbers 52 to 54:
We have an employer in the form of the Manager of a ‘Coal & Lime Importers, Oil Refiners & Grain Merchants Limited Company’; another employer who was a House Painter; a third employer who was a ‘Motor Car Agent’ and whose daughter was a ‘Clerk & Typist’ in the Motor Trade; and finally a ‘Retired Gilder & Picture Framer’ whose daughter was a self-employed Piano Teacher and whose two sons were employed as a ‘Dentists Mechanic’ and a ‘House Painter’.
So this was the neighbourhood that my Stornowegian grandfather found himself inhabiting 90 years after his own grandfather had been born in a house on the shore at Direcleit, a house that the sea was known to enter at particularly high tides.
I say ‘inhabiting’ but in fact he wasn’t there on the night of the census and, as the index at ScotlandsPeople does NOT include a field for the place of birth, I am not going to trawl through all the 36 year-old John Kerrs (at £1.17 each) in the hope of chancing upon him!
What is more disappointing is that, had he been there, I am sure that he would have continued his practice from the previous Census and inserted ‘G&E’ in the otherwise blank column recording Gaelic speakers…

>A Singular Occurrence

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In 1911, living on his own in a house at Rodil despite his being married, we find the 60 year-old Gaelic & English speaking Donald MacCrimmon. Deciphering his name initially proved a tad difficult but it was his unusual occupation that both drew my attention and proved the key to identifying him:
Dunvegan-born Donald gives his occupation as ‘Formerly: Book binder & Printer’ in ‘General Publishing’. Armed with his forename, age and the fact that he was born on Skye, I located him in the three previous censuses:
1901
Donald McCrimmon, 47, Book Binder, 144 Stirling Rd, Glasgow, b. Skye, Invernessshire
Mary McCrimmon, 40, Wife, b. Bernad(?), Invernessshire
Duncan McCrimmon, 21, Son, Book Binder, b. Glasgow
William McCrimmon, 19, Son, Goods Checker, b. Glasgow
Elizabeth McCrimmon, 15, Daughter, Envelope Packer, b. Glasgow
Euphemia Mcdonald, 16, Daughter-in-Law, Domestic Servant, b. Barnars(?), Invernessshire
1891
Donald Crimmon, 40, Bookbinder, 85, North Wallace St, Glasgow, b. Dunvegan, Inverness Shire
Duncan Crimmon, 13, Son, Scholar, b. Glasgow
William C Crimmon, 9, Son, Scholar, b. Glasgow
1881
Donald McCrimmon, 30, Bookbinder, 133 Springburn Rd, Glasgow, b. Dunvegan, Invernessshire
Elizabeth McCrimmon, 30, Wife, b. Huntly, Aberdeenshire
Duncan McCrimmon, 2, Son, b. Glasgow
John Caldwell, 25, Brother-in-Law, Iron Turner, b. England
Alexander Caldwell, 19, Brother-in-Law, Iron Turner, b. Dalmellington, Ayrshire
Barbara Stark, 13, Niece, Scholar, b. Glasgow
There are three or four possible candidates for Donald in 1871 but I don’t intend pursuing this.
However, these three returns alone have a things to tell us:
Firstly, Donald’s first wife appears to have been Elizabeth Caldwell from Huntly and she quite possibly died prior to 1891 which is when we see their son William having ‘C’, quite probably for ‘Caldwell’, added to his name. I have found the Caldwell’s in 1871 when they were living in Springburn, Lanarkshire and Eliza was employed as a Silk worker. A decade earlier they had been in Sowerby, Yorkshire, which explains her brother John having been born in England. Their father, William Caldwell, was employing 2 men and a boy in his work manufacturing Drainage Pipes.
Secondly, Donald married a second wife, Mary, but was it she who gave him a daughter, Elizabeth, in 1884? I have searched for the girl in 1891 to no avail and have also had no success in finding either wife in that particular year.
However, both Mary, and Donald’s ‘Daughter-in-Law’ Euphemia Macdonald, appear to have been born in Bernera in Inverness-shire which could either be the village of that name on Skye or the island of Berneray itself and if the latter might go some way in explaining why Donald the retired Bookbinder was living ‘next door’ to Lexy Kerr in Rodil in 1911!

>The Two Houses of ‘Kylis’

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The 1911 Census of Harris records the following:
KYLIS
7 Rooms with Windows
Malcolm Macdonald, 41, G&E, General Merchant, Own Account, b. Obbe, Harris
Catherine Macdonald, 21, Wife, b. Finsbay, Harris
Roderick Macdonald, 3, Son, b. (unreadable), Harris
Sarah Grant Macdonald, 9 months, Daughter, b. Kylis, Harris
Sarah Macdonald, 70, Widow, Mother, G&E, Private Means, b. Grantown, Strathspey
Flora Maclennan, 18, General Servant Domestic, G&E, b. Finsbay, Harris
Malcolm Macleod, 18, Servant, Carter, G&E, b. Ardvia, Harris
13 Rooms with Windows
Norman Robertson, 29, G&E, Estate Factor, b. Portree
Jessie Robertson, 27, Wife, G&E, b. South Uist
Donald Norman Stuart Robertson, 7 months, Son, b. South Uist
Donald Robertson, 66, Married, Father, G&E, Railway Traffic Agent, b. Blair Atholl
Christina Kerr, 21, Domestic Servant, G&E, b. Harris
I’ll get my family bit out of the way first:
Christina Kerr was a daughter of Direcleit-born Roderick Kerr Roderick Kerr and a decade earlier her brother Donald had been a Cattle Herd living with the family of Roderick & Sarah Macdonald at the Farm House. Thus she represents the most recent of a line of family members serving the Farmers & Factors of the South.
Returning to the two houses, I am unsure which of them is the ‘Kyles Lodge/Kyles House’ that was built for the McRa family and now wonder whether I was wrong to suggest that the family of Mrs S Macdonald had ever lived there?
If the smaller house was indeed the McRa residence, then what is the larger property?
My instinct is to suggest that the Macdonald’s had indeed lived at the Lodge/Farm from at least the years1881 to 1901 then ‘downsized’ after Roderick’s death and relinquished it to the new Factor, but I’d welcome some assistance in unravelling these residencies!