Prisons of Stornoway and North Uist

Here are those either running, or guests of, these two prison:

Hugh Brown, 60, Keeper of Prison, Church Street, b. Kilmorack, Inverness
Mary Brown, 34, Matron of Prison, Church Street, b. Stornoway

David Robertson, 33, Keeper Of Prison, Plumber (Journeyman), b. Aunton(?), South Uist
Margaret Cameron, 23, Prisoner, General Servant, b. Paible, North Uist
Angus Campbell, 35, Prisoner, Small Servant, b. Harris
Roderick Macneil, 25, Prisoner, Farmer, b. South Uist
Alexander Macphee, 24, Prisoner, Blacksmith’s Apprentice, b. Benbecula, South Uist
Roderick MacCochan, 20, Prisoner, Farm Labourer, b. South Uist
Alexander MacCochan, 18, Prisoner, Farm Labourer, b. South Uist

Hugh Brown, 70, Keeper Of The Prison, Prison, b. Kilmorack, Inverness
Malcolm Mackenzie, 14, Prisoner, b. Stornoway
Ann Morrison, 73, Prisoner, Pauper, b. Stornoway

Duncan Matheson, 36, Keeper, Prison, North Uist, b. Inverness-shire
Donna Matheson, 28, Matron Prison, b. Stornoway

Hugh Brown, 80, Supr, Prison Governor, 5 Invers(?) Ligach(?), b. Kilmorack, Inverness
Flora Macdonald, 30, Prison Matron, Lewis Street The Prison, b. Dingwall

George Mackay, 30, Keeper Of Prison, The Prison, North Uist, b. Inverness
Betsy Mackay, 29, Matron, b. Inverness
William Mackillop, 64, Prisoner, b. Bernera, Inverness-shire
Donald Martin, 36, Prisoner, Labourer, b. South Uist

George Macleod, 38, Prison Governor, Stornoway Prison, b. Lochbroom, Ross-shire

George Mackay, 40, Prison Governor, Prison, North Uist, b. Inverness
Malcolm Macdonald, 48, Prison Warder (Assistant), b. Newton, Inverness-sshire
Donald Cunnigham, 41, Civ. Prisoner, Fisherman, b. Harris

George Macleod, 48, Prison Governor, HM Prison Lewis Street, b. Lochbroom
Alexander Drummond, 24, Prisoner, Tinker, b. Gairloch
Jessie Macleod, 30, Prisoner, Labourer(General), b. Lochs

George Mackay, 50, Prison Governor, HM Prison, North Uist, b. Inverness
Elizabeth Mackay, 49, Prison Matron, b. Inverness
Archibald Macdonald, 38, Prison Warder, b. North Uist

George Macleod, 58, Prison Governor, HM Prison, b. Lochbroom
Lizzie Macleod, 51, Prison Matron, b. Stornoway

Ann Henderson, 56, Police Inspector’s Wife, County Buildings, b. Fort William
Alex Davidson Macsween ,27, Prisoner, Commission Agent, County Buildings, North Uist, b. Harris

The thing that strikes me is how quiet these prisons generally were at census time, with the notable exception of North Uist in 1851.Then six inmates represent four different islands and I note that their ‘Keeper’ combined that role with being a Journeyman Plumber. The 1901 entry for North Uist follows the closing of the prison in 1891 hence a prisoner being held at the County Buildings.

A description of the Old Courthouse, Lochmaddy, North Uist can be read here: Old Courthouse

Stornoway’s Sheriffs

These are those associated with the role of Sheriff in Stornoway from 1841-1901.

John Mackenzie, 65, Sheriff Substitute, Point Street, b. Ross and Cromarty
Colin Deitch, 55, Sheriff CL, South Beach Street, b. Ross and Cromarty
Donald Macleod, 40, Sheriff Officer, Keith Street, b. Scotland
Malcolm Maqueeen, 35, Sheriff Officer, Keith Street, b. Ross and Cromarty
John Munro, 20, Sheriff Officer, North Beach Street, b. Scotland

Colin Leith, 65, Sheriff Clerk Depute, Head, South Beach, b. Dingwall, Ross
Norman Macdonald, 54, Sheriff Officer, Head, Bayhead, b. Stornoway
Donald Macleod, 53, Keith Street, Sheriff Officer, Head, b. Harris
John Macquarrie , 47, Sheriff Officer, Visitor, Keith Street, b. Mull, Argyll
John Munro, 32, Sheriff Officer, Lodger, South Beach, b. Assynt, Sutherland

Andrew L Macdonald, 59, Sheriff Substitute of Lewis, Head, 4 Church Street, b. Edinburgh
Colin Leitch, 69, Sheriff Clerk Depute and Registrar, Head, South Beach Street, b. Dingwall
John Macquarrie, 56, Sheriff Officer and Constable, Head, Point Street, b. St Cuthbert, Edinburgh
John Henderson, 44, Sheriff Officer, Head, Point Street, b. Dunfermline, Fifeshire
(Donald Macleod, 63, Sheriff Officer Ross-shire, Boarder, East Tarbert Private House, b. Harris)

A L Macdonald, 69, Sheriff Substitute, Head, The Cottage, b. Edinburgh
John Ross, 34, Sheriff Clerk Depute and Clerk Ross Police Commission and Road Tolls, Boarder, 15 North Beach Street, b. Tain, Ross
Norman Macdonald 75, Sheriff Officer, Head, 43, Bayhead Street, b. Stornoway
Alexander Macdonald, 41, Sheriff Officer, Lodger, 8 New Street, b. Inverness

John Black, 53, Advocate and Sheriff Substitute, Head, The Cottage, b. Kirkaldy, Fife
John Ross, 44, Sheriff Clerk Depute, Boarder, 15 North Beach Street, b. Tain
Walter Rose, 44, Sheriff Officer, Head, 2 Bayhead Street, b. Nigg, Ross-shire
William R Macleod, 31, Sheriff Officer, Head, Pringle’s Court, b. Dundee, Forfarshire
(Donald Macleod, 83, Sheriff Officer (Retired), East Tarbert No 13, b. Harris)

Andrew Jameson, 45, Advocate Sheriff of Ross-shire, Visitor, Imperial Hotel, South Beach Street, b. Ayr, Ayrshire
John Ross, 54, Sheriff Clerk Depute, Boarder, 15 North Beach Street, b. Tain
William R Macleod, 40, Sheriff Officer and Grocer, Head, 36 Church Street, b Dundee

George J Campbell, 57, Sheriff Substitute, Head, The Cottage, b. Farr, Sutherlandshire
John Ross, 64, Sheriff Clerk Depute, Boarder, 36 Lewis Street, b. Tain
William Ross Macleod, 52, Sheriff Officer, Head, 6 Church Street, b. Dundee

The most obvious feature is the overwhelming presence of men from the mainland. This, coupled with the known facts of the behaviour of the Factor at this time, cannot have helped with the peoples attitude towards, and experience of, such authority figures in their midst.

It appears that, from 1871 onwards, ‘The Cottage’ was home to the Sheriff Substitute but I do not know the locality of that house, nor whether it still exists. In 1891 it was home to William Lott, 55, Divisional Officer of Coast Guard who came from Kent: Coast Guards of Stornoway

John Ross, from Tain, I think was related to Donald Munro, the ‘Shah’ of Lewis: Donald Munro Shah of Lewis

Explanation of Terms:
Sheriff Depute – Chief Judge
Sheriff – Local Judge
Sheriff Substitute – Performs duties delegated by a Sheriff
Sheriff Clerk – Official in local sheriff-court.
Sheriff Officer – An officer of the law

Donald Munro – The ‘Shah’ of Lewis

I gave a brief resume of Munro in an earlier piece: 
but thought that a complete list of his households plus a list of the others engaged in the legal profession in Stornoway might prove interesting.

Donald Munro, 37, Procurator Ross and Cromarty, South Beach, Stornoway, b. Tain, Ross
William Ross, 25, Procurator Ross and Cromarty, Cousin, b. Tain
Helen Ross, 32, House Servant, b. Eddrachillish, Sutherland

(Angus Macdonald, 28, Lawyer, Benadrove, b. Stornoway)

Donald Munro, 43, Chamberlain of Lews, South Beach Street, b. Tain, Ross-shire
Eliza R Munro, 24, Sister, b. Tain
Tina M Munro, 11, Scholar, Niece, b. Tain
Jane Macrae, 23, Domestic Servant, b. Stornoway
Margaret Macdonald, 24, Domestic Servant, b. Ness, Ross-shire
Catherine Young, 17, Domestic Servant, b. Stornoway
Robert Mackenzie, 21, Groom, b. Beauly, Ross-shire

(John Macdonald, 50, Lawyer, 57 Keith Street, b. Uig)
(Donald Maclean, 41, Lawyer, 52 Culngreen Road, b. Lochs)

Donald Munro, 56, Solicitor and JP, 13 South Beach Street, b. Tain
Eliza Munro, 34, House Keeper, Sister, b. Tain
Crawford Munro, 22, Factor’s Daughter, Niece, b. Tain
John Ross, 17, Clerk, Nephew, b. Inverness
John Macleod, 26, Groom, b. Tarbert, Harris
Eliza Sutherland, 23, Servant domestic, b. Farr, Sutherland
Marock Sutherland, 25, Servant Domestic, b. Farr, Sutherland

William Ross, 48, Solicitor, 11 Kenneth Street, b. Tain

Napier Campbell, 38, Solicitor or Procurator of Faculty of Ross, 40 Cromwell Street, b. Edinburgh

(Donald Maclean, 52, Lawyer, 8 Invers Beach, b. Lochs)

Donald Munro, 70, Solicitor and JP, 24 Kenneth Street, b. Tain
Betsy Munro, 42, House Keeper, Sister, b. Tain
William Ross, 24, Law Clerk, Nephew, b. Inverness
Jane Sutherland, 30, General Servant, b. Lairg, Sutherland
Rachel Morrison, 14, General Servant, b. Barvas

William Ross, 53, Solicitor and Procurator Fiscal, b. Tain

Napier Campbell, 48, Procurator and Enrolled Law Agent, Lodger, 17 South Beach St, b. Edinburgh

1890 – Death of Donald Munro

William Ross, 63, Solicitor, 52 Francis Street, b. Tain
John Ross, 32, Solicitor, Son, b. Stornoway

Colin G Mackenzie, 31, Solicitor, 2 James Street, b. Stornoway

Peter P Slater, Solicitor, Boarder, Royal Hotel, b. Shetland

Colin G Mackenzie, 41, Solicitor and Procurator Fiscal of Lewis, Park House, b. Stornoway
John Macdonald, 33, Depute Procurator Fiscal and Clerk to School-Board, 32 Keith St, b. Elgin

John Norrie Anderson, 54, Solicitor and Notary Public, Plym Nile, b. Stornoway

William A Ross, 36, Solicitor, 28 James Street, b. Logie Easter, Ross

The lack of any alternative to the Munro-Ross pairing is clear so that, even if their victims had been able to afford it, independent representation was non-existent.

What is also clear is that Munro lived surrounded by cronies (many of them related to him) but there is no sense of ‘family’, no feeling of ‘homeliness’ – one almost, but not quite, feels sorry for this evil, soul-less man…

Note: – It has been pointed-out to me that those who I have listed as ‘lawyer’ were in fact ‘sawyer’which makes more sense and explains their apparent absence post 1871. I have italicised these errors pending confirmation.

James Shaw Grant – A Shilling for Your Scowl – the Story of a Scottish Legal Mafia – Acair 1991

I first came across the work of late James Shaw Grant (22 May 1910 – 28 July 1999) when reading his 1987 book ‘Discovering Lewis and Harris’.

I was given ‘A Shilling for Your Scowl’ as a leaving present following my first visit to the isles three years ago. The lady who presented it to me said, with a mischievous twinkle in her eye, “I think you’ll enjoy this.”

The story told is that of the multi-tasking Donald Munro, a man who used and abused the Rule of Law to bring terror to the inhabitants of Lewis for most of the second-half of the 19th Century.

In holding several incompatible public and private offices simultaneously, he was able to act as if he was above the law rather than being a part of it.

It would make a great courtroom drama, with the proceedings of his final denouement being interspersed with flashbacks to the multitude of dreadful deeds that he carried out under his cloak of many roles.

Perhaps there was local knowledge at play when Munro’s 1881 address, 24 Kenneth Street, was chosen for the site of the 2005 An Lanntair Arts Centre for if ever it was necessary for a man’s dark deeds to have a lantern shone upon them, it was those of Donald Munro, Factor.

Donald Munro’s Census Locations

1814ish – Birth, Tain
1841 – (Not Located)
1851 – Procurator – South Beach, Stornoway
1861 – Chamberlain of Lews – South Beach Street, Stornoway
1871 – Solicitor & I P – 13 South Beach Street (The Star Inn)
1881 – Solicitor & N P – 24 Kenneth Street, Stornoway (An Lanntair)
1890 -Death