A piece on a proposal in 1898 to construct two railway lines on Lewis can be found here.
There are no ‘rail’-associated returns from the 1901 census for Stornoway so, even if the scheme was still ‘alive’ then, I can add no more information.
…is a supplement of the Stornoway Gazette.
Nine past editions can be read online via this link
Update: Murdo’s parents were, according to his Marriage Certificate, Angus Mcdonald & Christy Morrison. The 1901 census shows the following:
Christina Mcdonald, 59, Woolspinner, No 46 North Harris*, b. Harris
Marion Mcdonald, 21, Daughter, b. Falkland Islands
(*North Harris with a No. is probably 46 Tarbert, the 1901 Census not specifying Tarbert addresses)
There is no record of either of them in the 1891 census.
Although I have been unable to discover their voyage from the Falkland Islands to the Isle of Harris, I find it tantalisingly plausible that this mother and daughter are Murdo’s mother and sister. If so, then his mother was born in Harris and it is interesting that there is one marriage recorded between an Angus Macdonald and a Christina Morrison on the island. It took place in 1871 and so we can imagine the couple marrying prior to their departure for a new life many thousands of miles away, at least two children resulting from their union and then these two and their mother returning to the isle of their parents birth.
I will, in due course, examine the Marriage Certificate which, together with a search for and examination of the Death Certificates of these three, should settle the matter.
Update: I was interested in learning about population figures for the Falkland Islands and eventually found these tables showing 811 people in 1871, 1510 in 1881, 1789 in 1891 & 2043 by 1901. There is an informative timeline and much other useful information to be seen on the site.
This PDF document is a paper from the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland published in 1993 that contains plenty of food for thought on the organisation of island settlement that led to the development of crofting townships:
West Highland and Hebridean settlement prior to crofting and the Clearances
It is a scholarly, but very readable, account and the Abstract, Introduction and closing Overview give a clear synopsis of the competing claims together with the conclusions reached by the author, Robert Dodghson. I would, however, recommend reading the complete text for it is packed with detailed, illuminating information.
If you scroll down this link to ‘Gaelic Mapping’ you will find a wee tale about a place in Lewis:
Happily, Iain mac an Tailleir appears to provide the true explanation!
This small inlet in the Sound of Harris resembles the head of a pterodactyl swooping towards Borghasdal (Borrisdale). The name presumably has the same origin as the one that Iain mac an Tailleir supplies for the place in Lochs, Lewis:
Eishken (Lewis), Éisgean. This Norse name may contain “ash tree”.
In the censuses it tends to be written ‘Esgein’ but, as can be seen from this entry for the Lewis location the preferred spelling is Eisgein whilst the RCAHMS entry provides ‘Isginn’ as the preferred alternative.
It would be lovely to know what use has been made over the centuries of this most South-Easterly haven in the Sound but looking at the old maps the settlement of Srannda (Strond) appears centralised upon the port suggesting that it may have had an importance that its small size might easily lead one to overlook today.
There is a treasure-trove of correspondence between these two men to be read here:
It is significant that reference is made to three wives (obviously those of Carmichael and Thomas, plus Mrs Otter whose husband Admiral Otter was Fred Thomas’s superior), ably amplifying the impression I have of these men immersing themselves in the islands in ways way beyond those called-for merely by their duties.
I’d venture to say that we have seldom (if ever) attained such a degree of involvement in investigations in the succeeding 150 years!
One of my favourite passages is this from Carmichael:
I believe the ministry in Skye have been torturing the place-names there, which are three fourths if not seven eights Norse into all sorts of forced Gaelic names. Could the Government not be got to employ a competent Gaelic scholar to go carefully over the land and writing down each name as it is spoken on the spot? I would have no forcing either for Gaelic or Norse meaning best – just the sound given to the name [by] the people in the place. This would be I think a great gain. At present you have no guarantee that the name on the Ordnance map is the name used by the people of the place. Take my own native island of Lismore for example, for whose map I am just indebted to the kindness of Capt. MacPherson. Every name in the Island is quite familiar to me and on the map I can hardly recognise one of them – I can only wonder indeed how they managed to distort them out of their form. Very few names are given however – not more than ten per Cent I should think.
It could be slipped, seamlessly, between the leaves of the excellent Togail Tir…
Note: A biography of Alexander Carmichael can be read here: http://www.carmichaelwatson.lib.ed.ac.uk/biographies.php?lang=eng
He was a pioneer of photography, was accompanied by his wife on the surveys and she played an important (vital, perhaps?) role in the development of textile industries on Harris. They even had a wooden house erected on Harris such was the depth of their commitment to their roles. We also have the interesting, at times tragic, story of their private lives (not least Frances’s second Baptism and subsequent marriage to her step-brother Fred) ending with the widowed Frances marrying the son of a veteran from the Battle of Trafalgar whose ship’s ensign is the only remaining one from that event.
Captain Otter’s part in the laying of the first Transatlantic Telegraph Cable, Fred’s father’s pioneering work in the Shetlands and Orkneys (apparently including the 10 year-old Fred!) could be woven into a piece centred on, say, the period from 1857-1867 and ending with the sale of the North Harris Estate to the Scott family.
Oh well, one can but dream…