>About the Hebrides No VII

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‘At the inn here we met again with one of the commercial gentlemen whom we had encountered at the different markets coming north. He was a travelling agent of the Singer’s Sewing Machine Company; and in proof of how general is becoming the adoption of these useful instruments everywhere, he told me that since leaving Barra he had sold ten machines in the Long Island; and, after paying all his own travelling expenses, had remitted over £70 to headquarters, in payment or part payment of machines sold by him on his last journey in these parts. He added that now-a-days it is quite common, in what we should call little Highland tailors’ shops, to find two machines going in full swing. We had had no idea previous to this time of the amount of business generally done by southern firms with the people of the Outer Hebrides, and therefore might well be surprised by one fact, among others, told us by this same gentleman – namely, that a well-known tea merchant hailing from Edinburgh, who regularly makes exhaustive journeys through the Long Island on his own account, will take home with him as the “collection” of one such visit about £1000. True, he has the great advantage of being thoroughly au-fait in the language of the natives, and he supplies numerous private customers as well as the merchants; but still – the statement surprised us.’
Before examining this account, I should like to look a little at the inn’s location which was in ‘…Tigharry, a township not far from Griminish Point…’ on North Uist where the ‘…somewhat humble but snug hostelry…’ was kept by ‘Mr Roderick Macaulay and his most capable and willing help-meet…’.
In 1841, the innkeeper at Tigh a’ Gerraidh (Tigharry) was 40 year-old Donald Macaulay who remained there in 1851 & 1861 but with the inclusion of ‘Farmer of 16 acres’ & then ‘Farmer of 14 acres’ as additional occupations.
In fact some 33 households are shown with the address of ‘Tigheary Inn’ in 1861, the Enumerator presumably considering this it to be the appropriate means of identifying the settlement as a whole?
Unfortunately the censuses of 1871 & 1881 return no clear indication of those (if there were indeed any?) living at, or keeping, the inn but the location can easily be seen on the 1881 OS 6-inch map.
In 1891 a Roderick Macaulay aged 54 was a Farmer in the township but, once again, the inn is not mentioned so whether he is the same person who nine years earlier had been the inn-keeper I cannot say.
Returning to the article itself, it is the information to be gleaned from the agent of the Singer Sewing Machine Company that demands our attention.
Firstly, a sum of £70 in 1882 equates to at least £5200 today (and quite possibly a lot more), the figure representing a combination of full and part payments for machines and after all the agent’s own expenses had been deducted from the sales. Small wonder that he had returned for another tour! I cannot find a price for a Singer sewing machine in 1882 but a close rival was on the market for about £4, equating to around £300 today.
Secondly, the image of a couple of Singer sewing machines ‘going in full swing‘ in many ‘little Highland tailor’s shops‘ is, at one and the same time, both reassuringly ‘cosy’ and also a pleasing antidote to the more-usual portrayal of island folk as automatically rejecting all such innovations.
Finally, the “collection” of £1000 by the Edinburgh tea merchant perhaps comes as no particular surprise until you update it to about £75,000 in today’s money. That’s a lot of tea (although precisely how much I cannot say) and the wily mainland merchant maximised his return by selling directly to his thirsty ‘Long Island’ customers as well as to the local merchants.
There we shall have to leave these travellers for now, enjoying their refreshments in Roderick Macaulay’s inn, but perhaps we’ll meet them again soon for they have many more interesting insights to provide us with into late 19thC life on the Long Island…
Source: Glasgow Herald September 1882

>’…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

>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!

>A Rare Find!

>As is usual, I happened upon this whilst searching for something altogether different (which makes it all the better!)

On this page there are 31 images of portraits by the artist Kenneth MacLeay including one of two Hearachs.

Image 26 shows the Boatmen Kenneth MacSween of Strond and Donald MacAulay of Fincastle.
The ‘Sitters Details’ (scroll to 18) inform us that Kenneth (Who appears in 1871 in my Boatmen of Harris piece) ferried cattle to the Mainland and Skye from Strond whilst Donald was a boatman at the recently completed Fincastle.

The portrait was displayed at an exhibition in 1870 and the eagle-eyed will have noted that, by the time of the 1871 Census, Kenneth (who is described as unmarried in the Sitters’ notes) has married and is living in Strond with his wife Christy and their 1 year-old daughter, Ann.

It is a real privilege for me to see an image of someone who appears in a record from 140 years ago and who is included in one of my little lists – and a rare find indeed!

Ciobairean Mara – Sea Shepherds

If you watched, or can be tempted to watch, this BBC pogramme about the Sea Shepherds then you might be interested in these pieces from my blog about the Cattle Men & Cow Herds of Harris , the Papar Project , some of the circumstances pertaining when Pabaigh (Pabbay) was sold to the  Mr Stewart who is mentioned in the programme and, finally, the only two Hand Loom Weavers (HLW) recorded there prior to the Clearance of Pabaigh in the 1840s…

Three Tenants of Strond

In 1861, 12 of the 32 families in Strond (ED7) recorded their Head of Household as a ‘Tenant’.
There were no Tenants’ in the 26 households of ‘Oab’ (ED6), the 5 of ‘Borisdale’ (ED7) nor the 5 of Rodel (ED7) thus these 12 were the only Tenants along the Sound of Harris between Rodel and An-t-Ob.
The whole of Harris at that time had 64 ‘Tenant’ households, which can be compared to the total of 233 Crofter households of Harris none of whom were amongst the 68 households in this region.
I am particularly interested in three of these Tenant families:
Angus Kerr, 70, Tenant, b. Harris (my great,great,great granduncle)
Marion Kerr, 61, Wife, b. Harris
Malcolm Kerr, 30, Farmer’s Shepherd, Son, b. Harris (marries Isabella Maclean, daughter of one of the 18 Tenants in Strond of 1841)
Effy Kerr, 26, Daughter, b. Harris (spinster)
Roderick Kerr, 22, Post, Son, b. Harris (bachelor)
Mary Kerr, 20, Daughter, b. Harris (see below)
Angus & Marion’s other three children:
Marion b. 1821, fate not yet discovered;
Angus (Rodel Farm Grieve & Coachman) b. 1829 married, on the 5th of April 1870, Lexy Morrison daughter of Kyles Scalpay’s Schoolmaster;
William b. 1826, a Fisherman who drowned, unmarried, in1862
Mary Kerr would, on the 12th of February 1867, marry Angus Macsween the Tenant, who was a son of John Macsween the Weaver and his wife Anne Campbell:
Angus Macsween, 34, Tenant, b. Harris
Lexy Macsween, 36, Ag Lab, Sister, b. Harris
Malcolm Macsween, 26, Sailor (Merchant Service), Brother, b. Harris
Kenneth Macsween, 24, Sailor (Merchant Service), Brother, b. Harris
Jessie Campbell, 22, General Servant, Cousin, b. Harris
John Gillies, 9, Nephew, b. Harris
John Gillies aged 9 is the son of Kenneth Gillies the Tenant and his wife who was born Marion Macsween. It would appear that she was the sister of Angus Macsween, hence John Gillies being his nephew.
Kenneth Gillies, 50, Tenant, b. Harris
Marion Gillies, 43, Wife, b. Harris
Donald Gillies, 20, Son, b. Harris
Ann Gillies, 17, Daughter, b. Harris
William Gillies, 13, Son, b. Harris
Catherine Gillies, 6, Daughter, b. Harris
Allan Gillies, 48, Brother, b. Harris
Mary McDearmid, 20, Pauper, Friend, b. Harris
John Gillies would, on the 14th of April 1891, marry Flora Morrison, the daughter of William Morrison & Christian Kerr, she herself being a daughter of Angus Kerr the Tenant. William, a Fisherman, drowned off Thurso on the 25th of December 1890. John Gillies, a Sailor, was one of small and somewhat mysterious group calling themselves ‘Yacht’s Man’ in 1891.
William Morrison, 30, Fisherman, b. Harris
Christy Morrison, 29, Wife, b. Harris
Flora Morrison, 4, Daughter, b. Harris
Angus Morrison, 2, son, b. Harris
Christy Morrison, 2 months, Daughter, b. Harris
All four of these families lived along the Sound of Harris between Borrisdale, Strond and An-t-Ob ,but it was only when looking at Angus Kerr’s fellow Tenants in Strond in 1861 that I realised the ‘Tenant’ connection and its possible significance within this part of the island at this time.
There were no Crofters anywhere between Rodel and An-t-Ob, just these dozen Tenants in Strond who represent more than a third of the households in that place and nearly a fifth of those in the region.
The 5 households at Rodel were the Factor’s, those of three Farmer’s Shepherds and finally that of an Agricultural Labourer. The 5 in Borrisdale were those of a Tailor, a Retired Weaver, a Retired Tenant, a Retired Herd and finally that of a Pauper who had previously been a General Servant.
The pattern is clear: at Rodel Farm are those working directly for the Dunmore’s on what might be described as the ‘Home Farm’. Over the hill at the Eastern end of the Sound were retired employees with one economically active Tailor. It is only when we get to the Farm of Strond that we find other activity taking place in the form of our dozen Tenants and their neighbouring households:
One Mason, a Gardener, three Fishermen, the Ground Officer’s widow, two Shoemaker’s Widows (one with her shoemaking son) an Agricultural Labourer, the Public Shepherd, a ‘Seaman Packet’ and three Sailors, a County Constable, the Retired Factor’s Clerk, two Retired Tenants, a Weaveress, a very elderly Weaver and a Retired Weaveress who is now a Pauper.
In these 20 non-Tenant households we can see something of the ‘flavour’ of the area and, although it would take a complete analysis of each of the 179 individual’s occupation to be more precise, I am prepared to say that this mixture of Fishers, Sailors, Weavers and ‘Officials’ employed by the proprietor is reasonably representative. Thus Strond in 1861 was the site of a group of tenants tending the farmland who were accompanied by men who made their living from the sea and others who were providing support to the owners. It is not until we get to An-t-Ob that this dominance that stretches from Rodel through Borrisdale and Strond is broken.
These demographics, in combination with the family connections as outlined above, appear to me to give credence to my growing conviction that my (distant) uncle Angus’s family was one of those whose status/standing/class (I am struggling to find the appropriate term!) meant that they escaped the (ill)treatment that the Factor, John Robson Macdonald, was notoriously inflicting on so many less fortunate souls.
Angus was one of the 28 Tenants in An-t-Ob and Strond in 1841 but one of the only 12 remaining in that same area by 1861. His children worked in trusted positions in the households, or on the land, of the Factor and Farmers of Harris and married into similar families whose offspring were similarly employed – Isabella Maclean, for example, worked at Rodel in the home of a Fish Curer who later became a Farmer and then was employed by Kenneth Macdonald the Sheep Farmer at Big Borve before marrying Malcolm the Shepherd.

This process eventually resulted in one of Angus’s granddaughters, Marion, becoming a Farmer’s Wife.
She married the eldest son of the Fish-Curer-turned-Farmer whom her Aunt Isabella once worked for. Marion Kerr, the daughter of Angus Kerr the Farm Grieve, set-up home on Rodel Farm as Mrs John Campbell, her husband and his father being the two Farmers resident in Rodel.
I have touched upon this before and elsewhere in this blog, too, but had not previously examined the way the pattern that Angus the Tenant’s descendants wove fitted into the larger picture of the area.
I think one could quite reasonably claim that they were ‘comfortably woven into the fabric of society’…

Spinning Wheel Makers of Stornoway

I mentioned in the previous piece on the ‘Turner’ men of Stornoway that there were two occurrences of ‘Spinning Wheelmakers’ in the censuses.
James McRae,who was born to the Turner & Wheelwright John McRae and his wife Ann in about 1845 became a Spinning-Wheel Maker by 1901.
His is not the earliest record however because in the census of 1891 we find 68 year-old Donald Macdonald, a ‘Spinning Wheelmaker’ living with his wife & family at 25 Bayhead St in Stornoway:
1891
Donald Macdonald, 68, Spinning Wheel Maker, 25 Bayhead St, b. Stornoway
Margaret Macdonald, 64, Wife, b. Stornoway
Bell Macdonald, 36, General Servant, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Murdo Macdonald, 34, Cooper, Son, b. Greenock, Renfrew
Aulay Macdonald, 27, Baker, Son, b. Stornoway
Donald Macdonald, 44(?), Apprentice Clerk, Grandson, b. Glasgow
Obviously I wanted to discover more about Donald and his family and this single record already provides additional information beyond names and approximate years of birth::
At some time around 1857 (and perhaps for a protracted period between 1855 and 1864) the Macdonald’s, or at least Mrs Margaret Macdonald, were in Greenock where their son Murdo had been born.
One of the children had moved to Glasgow and produced Donald the Grandson but this Donald’s age appears likely to be incorrectly recorded?
1881
Donald Macdonald, 57, Wheelwright, 19 Bayhead St, b. Stornoway
Margaret Macdonald, 55, Wife, b. Stornoway
Bella Macdonald, 25, General Servant (Domestic), Daughter, Stornoway
Murdo Macdonald, 24, Cooper, Son, b. Greenock, Renfrew
Colin Macdonald, 19, Wheelwright, Son, b. Stornoway
Aulay Macdonald, 17, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
So a decade earlier they were a few houses nearer to the centre of Stornoway with both Donald and a son who we hadn’t met before, Colin, working as Wheelwrights. Murdo was already Coopering.
1871
Donald Mcdonald, 48, Ship Carpenter, 18 Bayhead St, b. Stornoway
Margaret Mcdonald, 43, Wife, b. Stornoway
Isabella Mcdonald, 18, General Servant, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Donald Mcdonald, 18, Apprentice Turner, Son, b Stornoway
Murdo Mcdonald, 14, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
Catherine Mcdonald, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Colin John Macdonald, 9, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
Aulay Mcdonald, 7, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
So from this we learn of an older son, Donald, who was an Apprentice Turner whilst his father was working as a Ship Carpenter.
Isabella hadn’t yet adopted the diminutive forms of her name, Bella & Bell, but we now know that she wasn’t for example, an ‘Annabella’ and Colin was originally Colin John. Two small details but of the kind that can prove useful clues sometimes!
Note also that in this record, Murdo is erroneously shown as having been born in Stornoway and hence if I had been looking for Murdo Macdonald’s born in Greenock around 1857 he would have slipped through the net.
1861
Donald Mcdonald, 37, Carpenter, 11, Bayhead St, b. Stornoway
Margaret Mcdonald, 33, wife, b. Stornoway
William Macdonald, 14, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
John Mcdonald, 12, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
Bella Mcdonald, 9, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Donald Mcdonald, 7, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
Murdo Mcdonald, 4, Son, b. Greenock, Renfrewshire
Ann Mcdonald, 2, Daughter, b. Greenock, Renfrewshire
Colin John Mcdonald, 3 months, b. Stornoway
The family are even closer to town and, coincidentally, are in the house that my grandfather was born in some 14 years later. We see William and Ann for the first time and Greenock-born Ann lends credence to the whole family having spent at least a couple of years in Greenock around the year 1858.
1851
Donald Mcdonald, 28, Joiner, Bayhead, b. Stornoway
Margaret Mcdonald, 24, Wife, b. Stornoway
William Mcdonald, 4, son, b. Stornoway
John Mcdonald, 2, Son, b. Stornoway
Here we see the family in its infancy but in the street that they would live in for at least another 40 years.
1841
Isabella McDonald, 45, Mill St, b. Ross and Cromarty
Donald MacDonald, 19, Carpenter’s Apprentice, b. Ross & Cromarty
John MacDonald, 17, b. Ross & Cromarty
Colin MacDonald, 12, b. Ross & Cromarty
William Macdonald, 12, b. Ross & Cromarty
I cannot be sure that this is the correct family but, in addition to the young man Donald’s occupation we also have the names of his mother (presumably) and brothers, names that he would give to his own children and which are a hugely valuable indication that Donald Mcdonald, who became one of only two of Stornoway’s ‘Spinning Wheel Makers’ and spent his entire working life in Bayhead, began learning his craft when at the family home in Mill Street, that offshoot of Bayhead that I discussed in the piece on Stornoway’s Millers.
I am not attempting to track the whole family and, for example, there’s still the mystery of the Glaswegian grandson, but for the sake of completeness here’s what I have found for 1901:
It appears that Donald and Margaret had either passed-away or moved away from Stornoway.
Of the four children who had been with them in 1891, I have discovered the following:
Isabella/Bella/Bell Mcdonald isn’t to be found. There is one who at first sight appears to fit for she is living with her brother Murdo, but when we discover that their mother is a Christina Macdonald we can exclude them both. Bell may have married, moved or died young.
There is a Murdo Mcdonald who is a Cooper of the correct age living at 3 Laxdale, Stornoway with his wife Donaldina and their 1 year-old daughter Margaret. He is shown as a Stornowegian but there are none of his name who were Greenock-born to be found.
Aulay the Baker, now aged 37, we find visiting the Blacksmith’s House in Garrabost which is home to the Blacksmith William Mcdonald and his wife Sarah. I think it is reasonable to conjecture that Aulay has led us to his oldest brother who we last met as a Scholar back in 1861.
This is not by any means the whole story of this family but merely a beginning that I hope is of interest both for what it tells us about them whilst also demonstrating something of the higgledy-piggledy manner by which I meander along the genealogical way…

Three Turners of Stornoway

Pigot’s 1837 Directory lists three Turners in the town:
Donald McRae, Bayhead St
John McRae, Bayhead St
James Young, Keith St
I couldn’t find James Young again in Stornoway, but Donald & John McRae each appear in the 1871 census where they describe their occupation as ‘Turner’ and from those two entries I was able to compile the following information about them and their families:
Notes:
Entries in bold indicate a man who appears at least once as a ‘Turner’ in the census records.
The figures in brackets are there as an aid to tracking individuals down to the third generation.
1841
Donald McRae, 35, Joiner, Bayhead St, b. Ross & Cromarty (1)
Margaret McRae, 25
Jane McRae, 5
Mary McRae, 3
Catherine McRae, 6 months
John McRae, 25, Joiner (2)
1851
Donald McRae, 50, Joiner, Bayhead St, b. Barvas (1)
Peggy McRae, 38, Wife, b. Stornoway
Jane McRae, 14, Scholar, Daughter, b. Bayhead, Stornoway
Mary McRae, 13. Scholar, Daughter, b. Bayhead, Stornoway
Catherine McRae, 10, Scholar, Daughter, b. Bayhead, Stornoway
John McRae, 8, Scholar, Son, b. Bayhead, Stornoway
Helen McRae, 6, Scholar Daughter, b. Bayhead, Stornoway
Margaret McRae, Daughter, b. Bayhead, Stornoway
Kenneth Cameron, 30, Joiner (Journeyman), Boarder, b. Fodderty, Ross
John McRae, 54, Wheelwright, Keith St, b. Stornoway (2)
Archibald McRae, 20, Wheelwright, Son, b. Stornoway (2a)
Mary McRae, 18, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Donald McRae, 16, Son, b. Stornoway
Roderick McRae , 14, Son, b. Stornoway
Jane McRae, 12, Daughter, b. Stornoway
John McRae, 10, Son, b. Stornoway
James McRae, 6, Son, b. Stornoway (2b)
Hector McRae, 2, Son, b. Stornoway (2c)
1861
John McRae, 60, Wheelwright, 51 Keith St, b. Stornoway (2)
Ann McRae, 55, Wife, b. Stornoway
Donald McRae, 26, Baker, Son, b. Stornoway
Roderick McRae, 23, Joiner, Son, b. Stornoway
John McRae, 29, Baker, Son, b. Stornoway
Jane McRae, 21, Dressmaker, Daughter, b. Stornoway
James McRae, 16, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway (2b)
Hector McRae, 13, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway (2c)
Ann Morrison, 82, Crofter’s Widow, Mother-in-Law, b. Stornoway
Isabella Finlayson, 82, Seaman’s Widow, Lodger, b. Stornoway
1871
Donald McRae, 70, Joiner, 38 Bayhead St, b. Barvas (1)
Margaret McRae, 57, Wife, b. Stornoway
Catherine McRae, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Margaret McRae, 22, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Isabella McRae, 14, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Donald McRae, 17, Joiner, Son
Isabella MacKinnon, 2, Grand-daughter
John McRae, 71, Turner, 51 Keith St, b. Stornoway (2)
Ann McRae, 67, Wife, b. Stornoway
John McRae, 28, Baker, Son, b. Stornoway
James McRae, 27, Joiner, Son, b. Stornoway (2b)
Hector McRae, 22, Turner, Son, b. Stornoway (2c)
Christina Smith, Domestic Servant, 23, b. Uig, Ross-shire
John McLean, 78, Visitor, b. Lochs, Ross-shire
Archibald McRae, 40, 51 Keith St, Turner & Blockmaker, b. Stornoway (2a)
Annabella McRae, 27, Wife, b. Stornoway
Mary Ann McRae, 4, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Mary McRae, 2, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Annabella McRae, 4 months, Daughter, b. Stornoway
1881
Archibald McRae, 50, Joiner & Blockmaker, 51 Keith St, b. Stornoway (2a)
Annabella McRae, 37, General Servant, Wife, b. Stornoway
Mary McRae, 12, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Annabella McRae, 8, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Hector McRae, 6, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
Ann McRae, 4, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Alexander McRae, 3, Son, b. Stornoway
Christina McRae, 10 months, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Christina Murray, 16, General Servant, b. Stornoway
James McRae, 36, Joiner, 51 ½ Keith St, b. Stornoway (2b)
Mary Jane McRae, 29, Dressmaker, Wife, b. Stornoway
John McRae, 6, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
Jessie Ann McRae, 4, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Hector McRae, 3, Son, b. Stornoway
William McRae, 1, Son, b. Stornoway
1891
Archibald McRae, 60, Joiner & Turner, 65 Keith St, b. Stornoway (2a)
Annabella McRae, 47, Wife, b. Stornoway
Annie McRae, 14, Monitor, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Alexander McRae, 13, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
Linna McRae, 10, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Archibald McRae, 9, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
Jeanie McRae, 7, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway
James McRae, 43, Turner, Keith St, b. Stornoway (2b)
Mary McRae, 39, Wife, b. Stornoway
John McRae, 16, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
Jessie A McRae, 14, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Hector McRae, 13, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
William McRae, 12, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
Roderick McRae, 10, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
Kenneth D McRae, 9, Scholar, Son, B. Stornoway
Ann J McRae, 4, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway
James McRae, 3, Scholar, Son, b. Stornoway
1901
Archibald McRae, 70, Joiner & Turner, 65 Keith St, b. Stornoway (2a)
Annabella McRae, 57, Wife, b. Stornoway
Annie McRae, 24, daughter, b. Stornoway
Lina McRae, 20, Daughter, b. Stornoway
Archibald McRae, 18, Son, Apprentice Joiner & Turner, b. Stornoway (2a1)
Jeanie McRae, 17, Daughter, b. Stornoway
James McRae, 54, Spinning Wheel Maker, 62 Kenneth St, b. Stornoway (2b)
Mary I McRae, 48, Wife, b. Stornoway
Hector McRae, 23, House Carpenter, Son, b. Stornoway
William McRae, 21, Carter, Son, b. Stornoway
Kenneth McRae, 19, Butcher, Son, b. Stornoway
Annie I McRae, 14, Scholar, Daughter, b. Stornoway
It is not too surprising that a ‘Turner’ of 1837 would, at various times, describe themselves as a ‘Joiner’ or a ‘Wheelwright’ but James McRae’s move into specialising as a ‘Spinning Wheel Maker’ (he is one of only two such people that I have discovered) came as a pleasant surprise!