Lewis War Memorial – Concrete & Carpenter Work

As can be seen in this article from the Stornoway Historical Society , when the Lewis War Memorial was constructed the Concrete and Carpenter work was performed by
‘Messrs Kerr and Macfarlane of Stornoway’.
The manner in which this is recorded suggests that Kerr and Macfarlane were business partners in the building trade and this raises the question as to precisely who they were.
Neither name is very common on the island – in 1901 there were 13 male Macfarlane’s and 7 men called Kerr in Stornoway – hence if the contractors of the early 1920s were sons of the town then there’s a good chance that they are to be found amongst these twenty individuals. The census provides little assistance in terms of occupations and so the Macfarlane side will be left for now. Amongst the Kerr men we have the three sons of Alexander John (who were born in 1884, 1897 and 1904) and the three sons of Malcolm (who were born in 1897, 1901 and 1902).
From these six, the one that seems the most likely to me is Donald who was born in 1884, who’s trade was that of a Carpenter, who survived WWI having served with the CORCC, and who died in Stornoway in 1935. He would have been in his mid-thirties at the time of the construction (the others at most in their early-to-mid-twenties) and his death in 1935 meant he wasn’t around to tell the story to his nieces and nephews.
I could be totally wrong (and unless I can find the records of the Memorial’s construction that remains a strong possibility!) but IF Messrs Kerr and Macfarlane of Stornoway included a Stornoway-born Kerr then Donald’s definitely in the running.

Update: Donald’s death certificate show that he was a ‘Building Contractor’ living at 10 Bayhead Street, Stornoway as of the 14th December 1935. This supports the hypothesis that it was indeed he who helped provide the ‘Concrete and Carpenter Work’.

First a Cousin, now two Half-Brothers!

The friend who had alerted me to my Grandfather’s Cousin, Donald Kerr, serviing with the Canadian forces in WWI contacted me today to ask if a Malcolm Kerr Maciver who is recorded here might be related too?

In the course of confirming that this was indeed my Grandfather’s Half-Brother, I noticed a second name on the list and, having checked for the possibility that it might not be the case, confirmed that Malcolm’s brother Alex John was there too: http://lewis-canada.blogspot.com
I should point-out that I have devoted comparatively little resources to exploring the Maciver family (William & Annie had 7 children between 1882 and 1895) so have yet to see what became of them all.
William and Annie were cousins, their respective mothers being two Macdonald sisters who had come to Stornoway after the Clearance of Orinsay in 1843.
These mothers, and countless other people, were deemed not ‘profitable’ enough for those who lauded the land but their sons, and countless others, did not hesitate to heed the call to fight, even those of them who were to be found all the way across the Atlantic:
The quote below, from within evidence to the Napier Commission that graphically describes such Clearances, proved not to be prophetic and the isles can claim to have supplied proportionately more men to ‘The Great War’ than any other part of the British Isles:
“It would appear that, when Britain becomes involved in a struggle with another nation in the future, they must send for the deer and sheep of Harris as well as its young men, and then they can see which is the best bargain.”John Macleod, 13th June 1883, Tarbert, Harris

Lance Corporal Alex John Maciver b.16 January 1882
Last address in Lewis: 6 Plantation Road
Not married Next of kin: William Maciver, Father, of Stornoway
Canadian Engineers – Service number: 135382
Volunteered at Toronto on 29 July 1915
Twice wounded. Attestation papers not available*
(Note: the Front page is available, the second is missing)

Sapper Malcolm Kerr Maciver b.19 January 1890
Last address in Lewis: 14 Plantation Road
Current address: 61 Crawford St, Toronto
Not married Next of kin: Annie Maciver, Mother, of 14 Plantation Road
Canadians – Service number: 766056
Volunteered at Toronto on 6 December 1915

Update: I was delighted to discover that both my Great-Uncles survived the war and married in Canada.
On the 28th March 1921, 39 tear-old Alexander John Maciver wed an Englishwoman, Annie Darch age 35, in York, Ontario. Her father was a Carpenter from London.  Malcolm Kerr Maciver married Philadelphia-born Charlotte Mary Flavelle on the 28th June 1924. Her father, who was working in a Carpet Mill in 1910, came from Ireland whilst her England-born mother was the daughter of Scottish parents.

Alexander John and Annie had a son, William who was born on the 13 April 1923.
He, like his father before him, went to war but unlike him young William never got to return home.
On the 25th July 1944 he was killed in France and is buried alongside nearly 3,000 fellow Canadians who fell during the battle for Normandy… http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/history/campaigns/northwesteurope/normandy.htm
(Operation SPRING, ‘the costly attacks on the Verrieres Ridge’, began on 25 July 1944)

RIP William Alexander Maciver (1923-1944)
of, according to http://lewiswwar2.blogspot.com/2008/01/stornoway-steornabhagh.html , 3 Westview Terrace, Stornoway.

Update 2: Investigating further, it appears that William Alexander Maciver’s mother, Annie Darch, had a brother who emigrated to Michigan where he met and, in 1919,  married Adolphina Hemberger from Erling near Munich in Germany. In 1933 Annie and the 9 year-old William made the 350-mile trip to visit her brother, Adolphina and their 13 year-old son, Robert.
The 21 year-old Musician Robert Darch enlistedwith the US Army in 1941 and appears to have survived.
It must have been a terrible time for Adolphina, the migrant from Germany, and made all the worse when the news reached them of her husband’s nephew’s death in the Battle for Normandy.

Donald Kerr in the Canadian Expeditionary Force

Until this morning I was unaware of any of my relatives having participated in ‘The Great War’, as WWI once used to be called. A communication arrived alerting me to to this entry which proved a double surprise.

Firstly, because of it being a cousin of mine and, secondly, because I also wasn’t aware that he had emigrated to Canada! I immediately checked on Ancestry.co.uk and there, in the Canadian records that I had no previous reason to search with regard to Donald, was the original ‘Attestation Paper’, presumably completed, or at least signed, in his own hand. The Regimental Number is shown as 197, but I am ignorant as to whether that is his personal Service Number or just a record that he was the 197th volunteer? A ‘Sapper’, of course, is a military engineer and when one thinks of the trenches of WWI and the quantity of woodwork utilised in their construction it is obvious why a Carpenter would be directed into such service.

I knew that he was born on the 7th of April 1884 but didn’t know that he was a Carpenter, nor that he had served for 3 months with the ‘Rossshire Artillery Stornoway’, the Artillery Reserve whose training ground gave ‘Battery Point’ in the town its name.

When Donald signed the document on the 20th of March 1915 he was in Winnipeg, Manitoba. According to the entry in Lewismen in Canadian service his last address in Stornoway had been 64 Keith Street. In 1901 the 17 year-old Scholar was in Mackae’s Buildings, Plantation St, Stornoway and before that, in 1891, at 13 Church Street, Stornoway.

Donald was the eldest child of Alexander John Kerr and Margaret Macarthur and his cousin Alex Macarthur fell at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Donald, as far as I am aware, died in Stornoway in 1935 at the age of 51 which is one reason why I never suspected that he had ever left Lewis, let-alone served with the Canadians during World War I.

Some 15 years after Donald signed that Attestation Paper in Winnipeg, his cousin John’s daughter (my Aunt) emigrated to Canada. She and her husband left Aberdeen for him to take-up a post as Assistant Professor of Chemistry at one of the Universities in that vast country. As it happens, it was the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg…

Update: Thanks to the contributor whose comment appears below, I can now order Donald’s record from Ottowa but meanwhile am reading the Diary of the Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Corps here .
A couple of extracts:
July 8 1916 Bergue – HRH The Prince of Wales had tea in No 2 Coy’s mess
July 9 1916 Bergue – In a.m. party attended Sports Troop of 2nd Army Supply Column at le NIEPPE. Tug-of-war finals won by Canadian Overseas Railway Construction Corps.
(The Prince of Wales war service is described here )
A painting of the work of the CORCC in the Senate of Canada’s Parliament Building – http://www.voiceseducation.org/category/tag/railway-construction-france-leonard-richmond

Update 2: Apparently the CORCC began with 540 volunteers from the Canadian Pacific Railway in early 1915. Collectively the Canadian Railway Troops laid in excess of 2,500 miles of track during the war.

The remains of what I presume to have been the Sidings at Wippenhoek ?

Update 3: When Donald died on the 14th of December 1935 at 10 Bayhead, Stornoway his occupation was given as ‘Building Contractor’ providing more credence to my suggestion that he played a hand in the construction on the Lewis War Memorial .

Update 4: Alexander McArthur, son of Isabella McArthur, of 48 Lewis St, Storonoway, Ross-shire, and the late Alexander McArthur. Able Seaman Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (Clyde Z/3622). Killed, aged 26, whilst serving aboard HMS Defence at the Battle of Jutland (North Sea) 31/05/16. Commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Source: CWGC Casualty Details data base.

Admiral Henry Charles Otter, RN

One of the joys of conducting genealogical research is the way the wind and currents transport one into waters new.

Henry Charles Otter was born in 1808 (+/- 1 year) in Bolsover, Derbyshire which is roughly midway between Liverpool and Skegness and therefore a good distance from the sea.

He appears, or at least I have been able to discover him, three times in the census data and a few other times elsewhere:

In 1845, having been engaged to undertake a survey of the waters of, and off, Western Scotland, Henry Otter buys the Manor House in Oban*.

1851 finds Henry C Otter, Commander RN, and his wife on Portsea Island, Hampshire, visiting John Birch, a General in the Royal Engineers. As it was this branch of the Army that provided services to the Ordnance Survey, it is extremely likely that the General and the Commander were discussing matters relating to surveying, whether on land or at sea.

The 1857 Chart of the Sound of Harris

In 1858 the first Transatlantic Telegraphy cable was laid and Captain Otter pilots the final stages of the journey into Trinity Bay, Newfoundland** from HMS Porcupine, a paddle-steamer that he is also using in his survey of the waters of the Western Isles. He notes the peculiarities of the tides in the Sound of Harris at this time***, too, and no doubt his survey played a pivotal role in the later cabling of the isles****

In 1861 this 54 year-old Captain in the Royal Navy is at his brother’s in Dagenham, Essex together with his 46 year-old wife Mary Jemma who hales from Gravesend in Kent. Charles Otter in as Examiner in the Court of Chancery, a powerful if ponderous body that it is outside the scope of this present discourse to examine. The significant point is that the Otter’s were clearly a family of some substance.

By 1871 Henry is an Admiral (Retired List) still living with his brother in Hanwell, Middlesex but, despite his status being ‘Married’, Mary Jemma is not present.

I believe he died in June 1876 in Hampshire at the age of 68.

Update: I have discovered that the marriage of Henry Charles Otter and Mary Jemima Birch took place in June 1850 in Brighton, Sussex. It  would seem likely that the John T Birch with whom they were found in the 1851 Census was in fact Mary’s father. Mary Jemima Otter of 36 Buckingham Terrace, Edinburgh died on the 15th of November 1904. Colonel George Francis Birch took care of her affairs. Oh, and in 1871 Mary was with her husband at his brother’s in Hanwell, they were merely separated by an intervening sister of the Otter brothers in an oddly-arranged census return! Following Henry Charles Otters death, we find her in 1881 living with her sister Jane Birch in Edinburgh. As far as I can ascertain, Henry and Mary had no children.


*Manor House Oban

**Atlantic Cable


****http://direcleit.blogspot.com/2010/03/telegraphy-on-harris.html , http://direcleit.blogspot.com/2010/03/telegraphy-on-lewis.html ,

Fort George 1881 – Or where have all the Lewis Herring Fishermen Gone?

One of the particular pleasures of genealogy is how when one is pursuing of one particular area of interest an altogether new one manifests itself.

I was trawling (pun intended) for Stornowegian Herring Fishermen when I happened upon one such instance.

In 1881 I was astonished to find no less than 291 of these men in Ardersier, Inverness. Such a concentration in one place clearly implied that something was going-on. My initial thought, given that it was early in April of that year, was that perhaps I’d found the Herring Fleet massed during a fishing expedition.

The truth was altogether different and reflected another aspect of the lives of the islanders:

In 1769 the fort at Ardersier on the Moray Firth was completed and by 1881 had become
Fort George and Fortified Garrison, On the Moray Firth, Ardersier, Inverness-shire.

In the census of that year there were 1211 people at Fort George, 1043 of the males including the men of the Highland Rifle Militia:

Major Highland Rifle Militia, Commander HRM – Alexander C Macleay, 38, b. London
Major Highland Rifle Militia, Second in Command HRM
Hon Major H R Militia Full Pay – Joseph Charles Ross Grove, 46, b. Demerera, West India

Pipe Major – Robert Mackenzie, 38, b. Fodderty, Ross (Wife & Children) 4 Pipers
Bugle Major – William Thomas Smith, 41, b. Barbados, West Indies (Wife & daughter) 4 Buglers

8 Captains

14 Lieutenants

Sergeant Major – Alexander Sutherland, 44, b. Latheron, Caithness
Sergeant Major – John Anderson, 38, b. Dundee

39 Corporals, 3 Stornoway, 1 Lochs
Kenneth Munro, 23, Tailor (Master) b. SY
Alexander Macdonald, 22, Herring Fisherman, b. SY
John Maclean, 21, Herring Fisherman, b. SY
Malcolm Morrison, 23, Herring Fisherman, b. Lochs

66 Sergeants, 1 Stornoway
Nicol Nicolson, 23, Sergeant Military Duty, b. SY

824 Privates
331 Stornowegian
30 Lochs
11 Uig
1 Barvas

The Isle of Lewis supplied 379 men to the Militia of whom 331 were Herring Fishermen.

Here are the total number of people at Fort George for each census, with those listed from the Parishes of Lewis:

1841 458
1851 237
1861 363
1871 420

1881 1211 – 331 Stornoway, 30 Lochs, 11 Uig, 1 Barvas = 379 Lewis

1891 1131 – 286 Stornoway, 70 Barvas, 63 Lochs, 29 Uig = 648 Lewis

1901 756 – 5 Stornoway, 1 Barvas = 6 Lewis

Finally, this is the wonderfully graphic address of Fort George from the 1901 Census:

North West Corner of Parish of Ardersier – Washed On Three If Its Sides By The Moray Firth

Fort George: Fort George

Possible Badge of the HRM- http://www.scottishmilitaryarticles.org.uk/smhsbadgebox01.htm

Chelsea Pensioners on Harris

I have restricted this list to records that confirm that, at the time, each person was an out-pensioner of the Chelsea Hospital. This partially explains why, with one exception, the census of 1851 is the only one represented:

John Macdonald, 51, Pensioner Chelsea Hospital, Kentulavick, b. Harris
(Wife, 28, and three children aged 6, 4 and 2)

Angud MacCuish, 50, Pensioner Chelsea Hospital, Borve, b. Harris

Neil Maclennan, 48, Chelsea Pensioner, Flodabay, b. Harris
(Wife, 40, and 5 children aged 8 years to 5 months)

Donald Macaskill, 60, Pensioner (Chelsea), Island of Bernera, b. Harris
(Wife, 40 and two children aged 9 and 7)

Donald Macleod, 47, Pensioner (Chelsea), Island of Bernera, b. Harris
(Wife, 44, and 4 children aged 14 to 5)

Christopher Macrae, 67, Pensioner Chelsea Hospital, Nishiskee, b. Kintail, Ross
(Wife, 42, and 7 children aged 19 years to 5 months)

Marion Macrae, 58, Chelsea Pensioner’s Widow, South Harris, b. Stornoway
(I believe this to be Christopher Macrae’s Wife. I found this family, uniquely, in 1841 where her age is recorded as 28 compared to his 55 years. I suspect she is nearer to 70 than 60, though!)

Norman Macleod, the only Chelsea Pensioner from Harris that I found in the National Archives: Archives


The Royal Hospital Chelsea – http://www.chelsea-pensioners.co.uk/

Chelsea Pensioner – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelsea_pensioner

Ordnance Survey in Lewis

In 1851 (or 1853, depending upon one’s source!) the Ordnance Survey (OS) published a map of the Isle of Lewis at a scale of 1:10,560.

It was followed by the First Edition of the One Inch to One Mile (1:63,360) map in 1853.

Lewis was mapped earlier than intended:

Although the plan had been to proceed generally northwards, Sir James Matheson, the proprietor of Lewis, was able to persuade the Survey that areas in Scotland requiring agricultural improvement should be given priority. From 1847-1853, the island of Lewis was mapped, with Matheson paying the extra expenses of being mapped out of sequence, and agreeing to purchase 100 copies of the maps

Ref: http://www.nls.uk/maps/os/6inch/os_info1.html

These people, from the 1851 Census, were at least some of those responsible for these jewels:

Matthew Wainwright, 24, Corporal OS, Black Water Sappers Camp, Stornoway, b. Ireland
Thomas Godding, 28, Chainman, b. Ireland
William Johnson, 26, Chainman, b. Ireland
Daniel Tiffew, 30, Chainman, b. Ireland
Miles Carbarie, 30, Civil Assistant, b. Ireland
John Flynn, 30, Camp Keeper, b. Ireland

Stephen Latham, 30, 2nd Corporal Royal Sappers and Miners, Cromwell St, b. England
(Wife and 3 children, 5 month-old b. Stornoway)

Donald Matheson, 21, Clerk OS, Point Street, b. Lochinver, Sutherland
(Angus Macdonald, 43, Grocer Draper General Merchant, b. Lochbroom)

Neil Cameron, 16, Clerk in OS, Son, Point Street, Stornoway, b. Greenock
(Mary Cameron, 38, Lodging House Keeper, b Argyll)

Patrick Connel, 30, Corporal Royal Miners and Sappers OS, Keith St, Stornoway, b. Ireland
Elizabeth Connel, 31, Wife, b. England
Thomas William, 1, b. Stornoway

George Greenslade, 28, Royal Sapper and Miner OS, Keith Street, b. England
James Turnbull, 16, Curlian OS, b. England

William Marrow, 39, Labourer OS, Keith St, b. Ireland
(Wife b. Stornoway)

John Macdonald, 26, Labourer OS, New Street, b. Uig, Ross
(Wife, b. Lochs and Brother , b. Uig)

Philip Smyth, 58, Chelsea Pensioner Labourer OS, Keith Street, b. Ireland
Daniel Harty, 34, Curl Assistant OS, Lodger, Keith St, b. Ireland
(Mrs Smyth and 2 daughters, all b. Ireland)

David E Halley, 29, Draughtsman Royal Sappers and Miners (Private), Kenneth St, b. E Indies
(William Black, 45, Boot and Shoemaker, b. Leith)

Thomas Kennedy, 27, Royal Sappers and Miners, Boarder, b. Ireland
James Batterden, 26, Royal Sappers and Miners, Boarder, Francis Street, b. Ireland
Joseph Brotherton, 24, Royal Sappers and Miners, Boarder, b. Ireland
Peter Callin, 20, Royal Sappers and Miners, Boarder, b. Ireland
(Margaret Rae, 63, House Propriertrix, b. Perthshire)

James Hannon, 44, Chelsea Pensioner Employed as Draughtsman OS, Francis St, b. Ireland
James Hannon, 16, Employed OS, b. Ireland
(5 more children, youngest aged 1 b. Stornoway)

Robert Cook, 53, Pensioner Royal Sappers and Miners OS, Francis Street, b. England
(Wife, b. England and two daughters of 25 and 23, b. Ireland)

Robert Barlow, 39, Sergeant Royal Sappers and Miners, South Beach, b. England
Scott Barlow, 16, Draughtsman Royal Sappers and Miners, Son, b. Ireland
(Wife and 6 more children, 2 year-old b. Stornoway)

Henry Stafford, 26, Employed OS, Lodger, South Beach, b. North Wales
(Willaim Pope, 46, Master Sailmaker, b. Rothsay, Bute)

George Spalding, 30, Corporal Royal Sappers and Miners, South Beach, b. England
(Wife, b. England)

Simon Ross, 34, Clerk Royal Sappers and Miners, Lodger, Enaclete, b. Redcastle, Ross
(Murdo Macdonald, 45, Shoemaker, b. Stornoway)

Richard Burnley, 29, Captain Royal Engineers, College, b. England
(Wife and 2 children, 3 year-old b. Stornoway)

John Nugent, 37, Surveyor OS, Imorsgliach, Lodger, b. Ireland
(Angus Morrison, 30, Master Shoemaker, b. Stornoway)

Bernard Gates, 31, Land Surveyor OS, South Galston, Barvas, b. Ireland
James Crons, 42, Land Surveyor OS, b .Ireland
John Chamrey, 32, Land Surveyor OS, b. Ireland
James Kelley, 24, Labourer OS, b. England
Malcolm Macdonald, 25, Labourer OS, b. Harris
Duncan Whead, 20, Labourer OS, b. Stornoway
(Hugh Macpherson, 42, Farmer of 150 Acres 15 Labourers, b ,Inverness)

Interesting Ref mentioning Galston Farm House: Galston

James Kennedy, 30, Labourer OS, Lodger, North Galston, b. Argyllshire
Robert Mackay, 28, Labourer OS, b. Thurso
(Angus Graham, 39, Small Tenant, b. Barvas)

Ref: North Galston River

Alexander Lands, 31, Private Royal Sappers, Cross, b. Nairn
(Wife and 4 children,

Park Farm Kenmore, Lochs
James Clarke, 32, Common Labourer OS, Kenmore House, Lodger, b. Perthshire
(Roderick Maclean, 32, Shepherd, b. Contin)

Daniel Balfour, 29, Surveyor (OS), (tent), b. Ireland
Mary Balfour, 31, Wife, b. Ireland
James, 10
Mary, 5

Michael Kayes, 31, 2nd Corporal Royal Sappers and Miners, Eadravil, b. Ireland
Thomas O’farrel, 32, Civil Assistant OS, b. Ireland
John Morrison, 22, Labourer OS, b. Stornoway
Evan Munsey, 18, Labourer OS, b. Stornoway

Brief note on the Royal Engineers and the OS:
Ordnance Survey, began in 1747, was the first of the Royal Engineers ‘specialist’ activities. Between 1820’s-1856 soldiers of the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners assisted officers of the Corps of Royal Engineers in survey duties in the British Isles and elsewhere in the British Empire. Today’s Ordnance Survey was developed from the early Royal Engineers survey activities.
Ref: http://www.army.mod.uk/royalengineers/history/default.aspx

There is a phenomenal amount of information lying in these records. The size of the undertaking can be seen both in terms of the number of personnel involved and its duration as indicated from the birthplaces of some of the children. It appears that some participants had been on the isles since at least 1848.

The dominance of Irishmen in the Royal Sappers and Miners is obvious but we also see that many had been serving, and surveying, that country prior to arriving in Scotland.

We owe these men, and women (for several wives clearly travelled around with their husbands), a huge debt of gratitude for providing us with a unique record which today, nearly 160 years later, we can even examine online: