Aberdeen Fish Managers of 1901

These eight men are those whose occupation included both the words ‘Fish’ and ‘Manager’:

Charles Catto, 52, Manager Fish Manure and Oil Works, Head, b. Pitsligo, Aberdeenshire
David L Crombie, 37, Manager Fish Manure Works, Head, 202 Victoria Road, b. Glasgow

John Watson, 29, Fishcurer Manager, Head, 97, Menzies Road, b. Dunbarton
Robert Manson, 25, Fishcurer (Manager), Head, 12 Menzies Road, b. Marnoch, Banffshire

John R Kendall, 27, Fish Merchants Manager, Head, 7 Bank Street, b. England

William Walker, 55, Manager Salmon Fishing, Head, 9 Fish Street, b. Porthleven, Kincardineshire
John Kerr, 26, Manager (Herring Fishing), Boarder, 12 Millburn Street, b. Stornoway, Ross-shire

James Murray, 40, Manager (Fisherman), Head, 40 Walker Road, b. St Monans, Fife

I was surprised to find so few men in managerial roles associated with the fishing. It is possible that other managers did not specify that they were involved in the fishing industry, but I consider that unlikely.

The first four records are self-explanatory and remind us of all the onshore processing involved. The remaining four are slightly less clear:

Was John R Kendall managing one particular merchant’s interests or did he have authority over all the merchants? If the former, it is odd that we do not see more men doing the same?

William Walker appears to be managing Salmon Fishing but does this mean that he his role was to oversea the salmon fishery too? The same goes for John Kerr, my grandfather, but for Herring. John is easily spotted for his is the only ‘G&E’ entry in an otherwise blank column requesting whether people spoke Gaelic.

James Murray’s role is equally perplexing and, without knowing exactly how the fishing industry was organised in Aberdeen at this time it is unclear what his management duties involved.

In John’s case, my aunt’s birth certificate of 1905 records him as a ‘Fish Salesman’ and (as it contains his florid signature crossing the boundary into the previous record!) I can assume that he gave that description in person. He repeated the description, and his ignoring of the narrow-ruled form, when he signed my father’s birth certificate a year later. When my second aunt was born in 1908, he was a ‘Superintendent of Fisheries (Congested Districts Board, Ireland)’ , for which role he had to be a Cooper, and it was my grandmother who signed the certificate in his absence

 She kept within the lines…

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:

1841
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)

1851
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.

1861
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?

1871
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’!

1881
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.

1891
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?

1901
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…

Stornoway Gas Light Company

Stornoway Gas Light Company

As the days begin their slow stretch towards Summer, I thought I’d do some introductory investigations into Stornoway’s first forays into town gas.

As usual, the results are presented as found, with the residence following the job title:

1851
Robert Wilson, 33, Manager of Stornoway Gas Works, Imorsligach(!), (b.Auchtermuchty, Fife)
John McPhail, 30, Labourer at Gas Works, Keith Street (b.Barvas)
James McDonald, 31, Plumber and Gas Fitter – Master, Enaclete, (b.Perth)

1861
Robert Wilson, 43, Gas Manager, Gas House, (b.Fife)
John Wilson, 18, Plumber and Tinsmith, Son, Gas House, b. Fifeshire
John McPhail, 40, Fireman at Gas Works, South Beach Street (b.Bragar)

1871
Robert Wilson, 53, Gas and Water Manager, Gas Works, (b.Auchtermuchty, Fife)

John McPhail, 50, Gasman, 16 South Beach Street (b. Stornoway)

1881
John McPhail, 58, Gas Manager, Gas House (b.Stornoway)
Donald McPhail, 25, Engine Fitter, Gas House (b. Stornoway)

1891
Daniel Macallum, 42, Gas Manager, 19 Bells Road (b. Barrhead, Renfrewshire)
John MacPhail, 70, Gas Works Labourer, 1 Newton Street (b. Barvas)

1901
William Miller, 27, Gas Manager, Gas Manager’s House (b. Ireland)
Murdo Mcleod, 34, Gas Stoker, 85 Cromwell Stree (b. Stornoway)

John McPhail, 82, Retired Gas Manager, 1 Newton Street, (b. Barvas)

Although these records give us little information regarding the development of gas provision in the town, they do stand as testament to one man, John McPhail, who clearly rose from the ranks to manage the Gas Works and then remained in a more lowly role before his retirement after a lifetime’s service to the Stornoway Gas Light Company.