>A Special Set of Links

>Although I think I deserve some small credit for having seen the potential in the peculiarities of the Scotland Census transcriptions in allowing one to perform larger-scale genealogical analyses, it is to another blogger that I owe my gratitude for realising that a blog might be a suitable vehicle in which to publish my results.

He is a prolific blogger and, although we frequently include links to each-others work, I thought it entirely appropriate to provide this comprehensive list of his various blogs:
First World War
Faces from the Lewis War Memorial – lists the casualties from the Isle of Lewis
Iolaire Disaster 1919 – lists the casualties and survivors of the sinking of HMY Iolaire
Lewismen in Canadian service – lists all those from the Isle of Lewis known to have served in the CEF
Wargraves in Lewis – shows the wargraves, and war-related private graves in Lewis cemeteries
Isle of Lewis War Memorials – shows the war memorials in Lewis and transcriptions
Roll of Honour – lists all those who served (and died) from Lewis
Lewismen from the 2nd Seaforths – lists those who served with the 2nd Seaforth with transcripts from the war diary of that regiment
Lewismen at HMS Timbertown – islanders interned at Groningen, Holland

Other islands
Harris War Memorial (WW1 and WW2)
Berneray to Vatersay Tribute (WW1 and WW2, Berneray, North Uist, Grimsay, Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay and Barra)
Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery (pictures and information on all the casualties buried in that cemetery in Orkney)

Second World War
World War II casualties from Lewis

Reports from the Napier Commission
Transcriptions of the 1883 Napier Report
Napier Commission in the Outer Hebrides
Napier Commission in the Isle of Skye
Napier Commission in Orkney
Napier Commission in Shetland
Napier Commission in Sutherland
Napier Commission in Ross-shire [work in progress]

Lewis and Harris witnesses to the Napier Commission


Local history blog
Pentland Road

Personal blog
Atlantic Lines

He also contributes to the Western Isles War Graves (forum) and Western Isles War Memorials (forum)

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John Macleod, Boat-Builder, Ness, 35

NESS, LEWIS, THURSDAY, JUNE 7, 1883

I mentioned in the piece on ‘Inspectors‘ that I recalled a reference to the the conditions pertaining at the harbour of Port Ness. This is the evidence given to the Napier Commission relating to that subject – I presume the presence in Barvas in 1891 of the Inspector of Harbours is indicative that John Macleod, back in 1883, was totally correct in his analysis:

15940. From what funds is the work at the harbour being carried on? – Lady Matheson gave £1500 and the Fishery Board gave £4500.

15941. Do you know whether any application was made to the Board in London for funds ? – Yes ; I know there was.

15942. You made an application to the Public Works Loans Commission? – No, but I wrote a letter to Mr Gladstone for it.

15943. But you are aware there is a Board which advances money for public improvements, called the Public Works Loans Board? – I know there is a Loans Board.

15944. Was there any application made to it?—I don’t think so.

15945. You say it would have been better to make the harbour much larger, and to make it a deep-water harbour. In case the harbour was ever enlarged thereafter, would the present work be useless and thrown away, or could the present work be made useful towards a larger harbour ? – The present work need not be thrown away at all, and I was very much pleased when I saw from the plans that they could make a continuation of a large harbour.

15946. Do you think that the present work will stand; is it substantial ? -Well I do not know. I doubt it very much – this piece they are making just now, – for it is just a piece they are running on the front out to the sea, and there is not a back to it. That is the worst I saw about the plan, and I objected to it the moment I saw it.

15947. You mean that the present wall at right angles to the shore is not sufficiently supported ?—I think not.

15948. How ought it to be supported? – If there was another one at the back of it, and a hearting, and a parapet the same as the rest of it, it would be sufficient to stand the waves ; for the out-sweep of the sea here is stronger than at any place the Stevensons saw in their life, and I am
afraid it will take the corner of the outer pier out.

15949. At all tides the boats will not be able to get in? – No; not with the present wall.

15950. Would they be able to come in under your plan for a larger harbour – Yes there is five feet of water at lowest spring water according to my plan.

15951. What do these big boats draw? – I do not know very well, but I think eight feet will do well enough.

15952. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh. – Who is looking after this part of the Matheson property ? – Not any one.

15953. Who is responsible for the place being so very dirty down about here? – I suppose it is the sanitary inspector.

15954. When this pier is erected will there not be some authority to look after it? – There is a sanitary inspector paid to do it, and he ought to look after it.

15955. The Chairman.- Who is the sanitary inspector? – The sanitary inspector for the parish of Barvas. He lives in Stornoway.

15956. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh. – Don’t you think the state of matters there is disgraceful?—I am very much disgusted with it, but I cannot help it, I would like to see it clean.

15957. There is no reason why it should not be clean? – No reason. They could keep it as clean as any town in Scotland, for there is a burn there, and they could clean everything down to it. We are fifty feet higher than the level of the sea, and there is always running water.

15958. Sheriff Nicolson. – Has any complaint been made to the inspector ?—I don’t suppose there has; I do not know.

15959. The Chairman.—What is his name? – Hector Ross; he is the parochial inspector too.

15960. Does he often come here? – Yes ; I have seen him often come over here.

15961. Does he ever give any order about cleaning?—I never heard it.

THOMAS BRYDONE (27)—examined.

Obe, Harris, Thursday, May 31. 1883


13384. The Chairman.—You are local factor for Lord Dunmore?—Yes.
13385. How long have you been factor?—Six months only.
13386. You have not had much time then to ascertain the wishes or condition of the people ?—No
Thomas Brydon became Factor of South Harris in Nov/Dec 1882 and in 1891we find him remaining as Factor, Farmhouse Luskentyre, (Leaclee), b. Dunblane, Perthshire.

13387. Has there been anything said to-day in your presence on which you wish to make any remark ?—No, I don’t think there is. As far as the crofts are concerned there seems to be some misunderstanding, because the blame seems to be laid on the proprietors and factors as to the size of
the crofts. A crofter, in general, if he keeps a croft, in most cases divides it with some of his sons, who get married, without the consent of the proprietor or factor. It stands to reason that a whole croft will carry one family better than two or three, divided up, and I think if only one family lived on a croft they could make a comfortable living, but it is the cottar that ruins them, and it is cottars who deteriorate the land by constant cropping; and with the most of the laud, if there were only one
family on it, they could leave perhaps a little of the land out for two or three years, and leave it under grass, and then bring it in again.
13388. Then you think the subdivision of the crofts has generally been the result of the people settling their own children upon them ?—Yes.
There could be a tiny bit of truth in this for, assuming a natural growth in population, clearly subdivision must reach a limit. However, it totally neglects the fact that acres of fertile land were turned-over to sheep, that those forced into the Bays were often accommodated by subdividing already-occupied land, and that it was the earlier greed of the Kelp industry that had demanded a greater workforce before the market collapsed in 1815.

13389. Are you aware whether in former times the proprietors have made systematic efforts to provide for the younger branches of these families elsewhere ?—I don’t know, but I think young men ought to have enough courage in themselves to go forth, as I have done myself, and many a one besides. It is much better than getting married and settling down on an acre of land.
The irony of this incomer from the mainland telling islanders to go forth and multiply as a solution to overcrowding needs no further amplification!

13390. Can you tell us the nature of the relief works which Lord Dunmore has provided with a view to the present necessities of the country ?—Draining, fencing, and building dykes, repairing piers, and so on.
13391. We heard from Mr Davidson a great complaint about the want of a road along the eastern shore of the island. Has that want been brought to your knowledge ?—There has been nothing said to me about it; I know the road, at least the most of it.
13392. Is it now in a very bad state ?—Yes; there was a road made part of the way at one time, but it is mostly all broken up. It is not passable for vehicles.
13393. Has any of the recent work been bestowed on that road?— No.
13394. Would it be very useful?—Well, they have got no horses on the east side of the island, and they mostly do all their work with boats. Unless for foot passengers, I don’t think it would do much good. They could have ponies, certainly, if the road were made. They could not take a pony there now, but if they had it right they could.
13395. In other parts of the islands are wheeled carriages used?—Only along the main road to Tarbert.
The picture painted is pretty grim. Men engaged in, presumably needed, relief work under the requirements of the Poor Law(Scotland) Act 1845 would have toiled for a pittance and yet what they wanted was a road so that they could be relieved of the burden of having to carry in creels on their, and their womenfolk’s backs, everything that was used on the land. It is another matter as to whether they could have afforded to buy horses and another as to what and where their ‘ponies’ would graze.

13396. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.—Are you in a separate district of roads ? Who has the charge of the roads ?—The trustees here. I am not sure, but I think Mr Macdonald, Scarista-vore, has something to do with it.
13397. Is Harris a district of itself, or is it connected with the Long Island ?—I cannot say.
We can see that roads were not Thomas Brydone’s forte and, despite some six-months in the post, this Factor had no idea of precisely who was responsible for the roads in Harris, North or South.

13404. Are you authorised to intimate, or are you aware, that there are any further improvements or expenditure going on on the estate ?—Well there may be, I expect, in another year.
13405. But you don’t know what the nature of those may be? – Roadmaking.
Methinks the man doth supply an answer that he perceives the commission wants to hear!

13406. The Chairman.—What value is the labour here, compared with the labour in Aberdeenshire? Do the people work as much or do as much ?—No, and they are not paid as much.
13407. For a long day’s work in the summer, what are the common wages of the people here?—Twelve shillings to fifteen shillings a week for common labour.
13408. And you would be paying in Aberdeenshire from 18s. to 20s ? Yes, they get from 18s. to 25s.
13409. Do you think the amount of wages has much to do with the amount of work done ? Is it the custom of the country ?—Well, I think they are fully as well paid on the mainland as they are here.
13410. I mean, if you give a man higher wages, will he do more work ? – No, I don’t think he will.
Wages in Aberdeenshire are on a scale 50% higher than on Harris! It is unfortunate that the commissioners didn’t reiterate what they were clearly wanting to know I.e.was the alleged laziness of islanders the reason for them being paid only two-thirds of their mainland counterparts but perhaps they took Thomas Brydone’s answer as affirming that particular slander?

13411. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.—Do the family, either one or other of the members of it, live here a good part of the year ?—Yes, his Lordship lives pretty often here.
13412. Will he live here four or six months of the year, in the course of the whole year ?—I can only speak of the time I have been here myself, but he has been here I may say a few months since last Martinmas.
13413. But he is always here every year?—Yes, and he stays some time, and he knows the most of the crofters, and takes a great interest in them.
This is four years before the Countess of Dunmore’s death yet, despite her interest in Harris Tweed, she, unlike her son, doesn’t even get a mention here. The mention of Martinmass, the 11th of November , suggests that Brydone arrived around that time but Lord Dunmore’s presence since that date is somewhat ambiguous in terms of frequency of visits and their duration.

13414. Does he speak Gaelic?—Yes he can speak Gaelic.
13415. Sheriff Nicolson.—Can you speak Gaelic yourself?—Yes.
13516. The Chairman.—How did you learn it?—I was born in the south of Aberdeenshire, and I was brought up in Athole, where there was nothing but Gaelic spoken, and I was obliged to learn it.
13417. Sheriff Nicolson.-—And you find it a decided advantage to know it, to make what you intend to convey to the natives clear ?—Yes, it is not suitable for one in my position to be without Gaelic in this country.
13418. Don’t you think there might be a great injustice done without any intention, through people not understanding what was attempted to be conveyed to them in a language they did not understand ?—Yes, I quite believe it.
At last we find something positive about this particular Factor! His appreciation of the necessity of speaking Gaelic appears to be sincere. The only puzzle is that, in both the 1891 census when he is on Harris and the 1881 census when he was in Blair Atholl, his birthplace is given as Dunblane, Perthshire rather than ‘in the south of Aberdeenshire’ and in 1861 the 5 year-old scholar is indeed in Dunblane.

13419. The Chairman.—-What do you think are the prospects of planting in this country; do you think it will be possible to establish any plantations ?—I think it would never pay.
13420. But without paying, would they grow?—Well, in some parts of the island they would; in sheltered places they grow very well.
13421. But you don’t think it could be a source of profit or improvement to the island ?—I don’t think it would.
Clearly, having spent one Winter on the island, the young man was fully aware of the preposterous nature of this suggestion, a fact that would elude a later owner of the island some 35 years later…

13422. Do you think that much good could be done by fencing – by the erection of stone fences ? – I don’t know where they are required much. Wire fences would be more suitable for marches in this country.
13423. That is between the tacks and the crofters, for instance? – Yes.
12424 But with reference to the arable ground of the crofters themselves, would a good stone fence not be of any value? -Well, they have good turf fences as it is; they are pretty well fenced in Harris as it is.
I have a suspicion that he is not too convinced by the ‘Dyke-building’ that the poor have been engaged upon and would rather see wire fences being erected to create barriers between people. His would no doubt be quite pleased to see that just such a situation exists over much of Harris today.

13425. Mr Fraser-Maclcintosh.—Are there any prizes offered by the ladies of the family for neat houses and neat gardens? – I think there are. It is not that I know it, but I hear the Countess has been giving prizes to those who have the neatest gardens.
Thomas is gaining in confidence now and his answers are fuller and expressed more clearly.This is the only time he refers to activity on the part of the Countess.

13426. Sheriff Nicolson.—Are you much struck by the character of the houses here, as compared with those you have been accustomed to see? Yes, there is no doubt of that.
13427. Do you know whether Lord Dunmore has done anything to improve the houses of the people, and stir them up to improve them themselves? – Yes, I have heard of his doing that himself.
13428. Does he give them encouragement to make the houses more neat and clean than they used to be? – Yes, he does that; I have heard him speak about it when he was here lately.
13429. Does he give them any encouragement in the shape of lime or wood ?—They don’t get wood ; as for lime I have not had any experience.
13430. The Chairman.—Have many of the cottages on the estate got fire-places in the wall, or are they generally warmed by the fire in the centre 1—I have not been in many of the houses, but I think most of them are in the centre. It is the best part of the house, as they can all get round about it.
13431. And what about the smoke?—They don’t mind the smoke, as it keeps them warm, they say. I think their houses are much warmer than most of the slated houses here.
Aha! – he ends with recognition of at least one of the benefits of the island ‘blackhouse’! The earlier part of this final section reveals the usual prejudices of those for whom only four square walls, with windows and a chimney can be countenanced as fit for human habitation. I am not going to over-sentimentalise what it would have been like to live in a ‘blackhouse’, but it would make for a very interesting piece of experimental archaeology for a modern family to give it a go.

Overall, I think Thomas Brydone, who has entered the scene late in the day and without the taint of some of his predecessors actions, gives us a different and useful perspective. He is clearly a capable and intelligent young man and by 1891 had settled into the ‘Farmhouse Luskentire’ at Leac a Li with his wife and five children. In the intervening time he would have been charged with implementing the 1884 Crofters Act in South Harris, had seen the passing-away of the Countess of Dunmore in 1886, and we last see him back in Blair Atholl in 1901. He appears to have fathered 8 children between 1883 and 1900 with his Blair Atholl-born wife, Isabella. This is particularly helpful, for the first one to be born after the family departed Harris for Blair Atholl was born there in 1897. Hence the family left Harris sometime between 1891 and 1897.

For someone who was Factor of South Harris for between 9 and 15 years towards the end of the 19thC, I have discovered very little reference to his impact on the area. We do know that the ‘Golden Road’ was completed in 1897, 14 years after he had mentioned ‘Roadmaking’ to the commission, so can be pretty sure that he had a hand in that particular improvement, even if he left before it was fully opened!

Note: There is an earlier Thomas Brydone (1937-1904) of Blair Atholl who emigrated to New Zealand where he was instrumental in the development of the export of frozen produce to Britain, but I have not examined any possible family connection save to say that they do not appear to have been brothers –
http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/1966/brydone-thomas/1

Obe, Harris, Thursday, May 31.1883

We are in an unidentified building in An-t-Ob at the end of May 127 years ago.
Present are five commissioners under the Chairman, Lord Napier and Ettrick, and amongst those giving evidence are a particularly significant pair of people and they are the subject of this and a subsequent piece.

Although there can be no substitute to reading the complete testimonies, so as to fully immerse oneself in the atmosphere of the past, I think there is a place for extracting parts that are of especial interest or that help to cast light into the shadowy corners of history:

Kenneth Macdonald, Farmer, Scarista-vore, – examined


13323. The Chairman.—You have a farm in South Harris1?—Yes, Scarista-vore.
The 1881 census shows him aged 64 and the ‘Farmer and Factor’ at Big Borve

13324. Have you been long resident in the country?—I came to Harris about fifty-one years ago.
He would have been aged 15 back in 1832 and from 1851-1881 he farmed at Borve

13325. Does your family belong to this country, or to another part of Scotland ?—I don’t belong to this part of the country. I am a Rossshireman.
Applecross, actually.

13329. If, in your recollection, the land has been more subdivided and more exhausted, how do you account for the fact that the people are better fed and better dressed?
Do they earn more wages?—A great deal. I believe that £200 of money comes to Harris now for every pound that came in my first recollection. There was no such thing as herring fishing. There was in some places cod and ling fishing. There was no such thing as lobster fishing. I happen to be an agent of the first company that started for sending the lobsters to London. Then an enormous amount of money is brought in now for clothes by the Countess of Dunmore. I remember one year paying an account of her ladyship, £1235 for webs of cloth alone. They still go on manufacturing.
Firstly, it should be born in mind that, even if there had been this miraculous multiplication in island income, there is no accounting of inflation nor, most importantly, how it was divided amongst the population. Macdonald, happily for him, was an agent for the export of lobsters but he neglects to tell the commission of how the fishermen only got paid for those that were sold in London, not all that were sent there. The £1235 paid for webs of cloth must have been when he became Factor and, as John Robson Macdonald was still in that role in 1871, it must have been within the last dozen years

13330. Is it manufactured in hand-looms?—Yes.
13331. What material do they use?—Entirely wool grown in the island.
13332. And the dyes?—And the dyes.
No mechanisation, no imported wool and no synthetic dyes.

13333. Is there any of the wool of the primitive race of sheep – the old Highland sheep, or is it blackfaced and Cheviot ?—It is blackfaced and Cheviot. The old primitive sheep are done.
13334. Can we see a specimen?—Yes, if you go to St Kilda.
13335. Sheriff Nicolson.—I think we saw them in South Uist?—Yes, but you will not see them in Harris.
13336. The Chairman.—Was the wool of fine quality?—I cannot answer that, for I have never seen any.
His reply, ‘Yes, if you go to St Kilda’, followed by his retort to Sheriff Nicolson’s intervention, strikes me as symptomatic of someone who is somewhat contemptuous of the five figures in front of him.

13338. You spoke about the winters now not being so severe—that is to say that frost and snow are comparatively unknown. Are high winds now more prevalent than they used to be?—Decidedly. When there is very keen frost there is scarcely any wind at all; but now, since we have no frost and constant rains, we have blustering winds continually, principally from the S.S.W. and W.
The overall impression is that during the past 50 years Harris had become warmer, wetter and windier, an interesting if unsubstantiated claim worthy of more investigation?

13340. You are in constant communication with the people?—Yes. I remember seeing them going to church, and the difference between the clothing and attire of the families going to church then was as different as day is from night.
13341. Is it better in reality?—Better in reality.
13342. But one man, a country tailor, and should know better than others, at Dunvegan, called all the fine clothing the women wear ” south country rags,” as distinguished from their fine home-spun cloth. Do you agree with the tailor?—I should not agree with that, for they are proverbial in Harris for their good spinning, their good weaving, and their good making of clothes for themselves, not only over Great Britain, but over the whole Continent. You hear of Harris tweeds here, there, and everywhere. My coat was grown on the farm, woven on the farm, and made on the farm.
A slightly confusing exchange, for it is entirely possible that, despite them producing the finest of cloths, the women perhaps could not ‘afford’ to wear it themselves?

13343. But many of the people state here that for want of sheep, and being overcrowded, they are not able to spin, and they would like to go back to the old times?—Well, so far as South Harris is concerned, of the number of sheep I can say nothing. Of North Harris I can give every sheep every man has.
A neat side-stepping of the question!

13346. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.—Have you any poets or bards among you ?—Yes, there was one celebrated poet, but he died about two years ago. The Harris bard, he was always called.
13347. What was his name?—Neil Mackinnon.
13348. Where did he stay?—Luscantire.
I have been unable to find him in any census, nor have I encountered other references to him so if anyone has any information please let me know!

13349. I wish to put a question or two in regard to the proprietors of this estate, so far as you know, from the time it left the M’Leods. Who was the first proprietor from the main branch?—Captain M’Leod, son of Sir Norman M’Leod.
13350. Was he a purchaser ?—He was the first purchaser. He was the first purchaser from M’Leod of M’Leod.
13351. How many generations of these M’Leods were’there?—There were three. Captain M’Leod’s son was Mr Hugh M’Leod, but he took his mother’s name of Hume, and his son Alexander was the last proprietor of Harris, who sold it to the present Lord Dunmore’s grandfather.
13352. How far back was that1?—Lord Duumore bought it forty-nine years ago.
13353. What was the price? Do you know the price?—£60,000 for the estate, and £500 for the purchase of the patronage = £60,500. Tradition said that £15,000 was the price originally paid for it to M’Leod of M’Leod.
13354. We have been told there is a small portion of Harris – the lands of Ensay and Pabbay – belonging to Mr Stewart. When were they sold ? —By the present Lord Dunmore, not very many years ago.
13355. And he also sold North Harris ?—Yes.
13356. It was the present Lord Dunmore who sold the whole?—Yes.
13357. To Sir Edward Scott?—Yes.
Sir Edward Scott bought North Harris in 1867 but what is memorable is Macdonald’s mastery of the sequence of ownership and the sums exchanged for his memory is not always as reliable as here.

13362. Sheriff Nicolson.—Were there some evictions which you remember, from the place where you are now living ?—Yes.
13363. When was that?—I can hardly condescend upon the date. It is over forty years ago, I believe.
13364. Were there not very severe measures resorted to for removing the people ?—Decidedly – very severe.
13365. Was not the Black Watch actually called upon to take part in that unpleasant work? – No, it was not the Black Watch, it was the 78th.
13366. Where did they come from?—They were brought all the way from Fort George.
If he is talking of the Clearance of Borve, then that was in 1839, some 44 years earlier and the regiment would have been the 78th Highlanders also called the Ross-Shire Buffs but the severity of the action doesn’t appear to cause him any disquiet.

13367. And where were the people transported to?—I cannot tell, but I believe they were scattered and transplanted here and there in the country.
13368. You don’t think they were carried to the colonies?—Oh, no.
13369. The Chairman.—They may have emigrated?—I cannot remember. I believe a few of them did emigrate, but I cannot say how many.
Having conveniently forgotten whether any emigrated, he then went on to mention a couple of ‘success stories’ from Canada!

13376. Had you ever to do with this estate at any time?—I had.
13377. Were you factor?—For a short time.
13378. Who stays at Rodel now ?—I believe the house is being prepared for his Lordship.
13379. There is no resident tenant now?—No.
So he had been the Factor of the South Harris Estate, although not resident at Rodel House, and confirms that no-one lives there now. I am particularly interested as my relative was the Farm Manager at Rodel in 1881 and I am sure that he had been a resident of Rodel House in previous years.

In conclusion, Kenneth Macdonald has provided us with further pieces of the jigsaw, some containing clearer images than others, yet who leaves me with the impression of a man from the mainland who, despite living in Harris for over half-a-century, has singularly failed to engage with the plight of his fellow men. His attitude to the Clearances and to Emigration clearly put him in the same league as those more notorious Factors of Harris, Donald Stewart and John Robson Macdonald, yet he remains less well-known.

And, of course, I do not know what part was played by my relative who once shared a roof with John Robson Macdonald…

Update: One aspect of this account is puzzling me. In 13351, he speaks of THREE generations of Macleods, interspersing ‘Mr Hugh Macleod’ between the Captain & Alexander Hume Macleod. As far as I can ascertain, Alexander Hume was the Captain’s son so where ‘Mr Hugh Macleod’ fits in is a mystery. The third generation was Alexander Norman Macleod who inherited Harris in 1811 from his father, Alexander Hume Macleod.  However, in 13354 we have confirmation that Ensay and Pabbay were sold to Mr Stewart (of Ensay) by the 7th Earl of Dunmore ‘not very many years ago’ thus allowing us to date the annotations to Bald’s map of Harris to having been made after those sales & possibly in or around the 1870s?

It is very easy for one to make mistakes with the generations and I am fairly sure that I have made a few, despite my efforts to avoid replicating such errors!

Update 2: A full account from ‘The Scottish Jurist’ regarding Alexander Norman Macleod’s inheritance and what became of it can be read here: 17th January 1838.

‘Mr Hugh Macleod’, whose identity so vexed me, was obviously Alexander HUME Macleod, son of the Captain and father of Alexander Norman Macleod, these being the three generations of 13351.

‘no person can conceive what kind of a place it is without seeing it.’

They scuttled to the shore,
At this place called ‘Crab Ravine’.


Bayonets at their backs,
Driven harsh to ‘Crab Ravine’


They faced towards the sea,
Pounding this ‘Crab Ravine’


Crofters become fishers,
At thin-soiled ‘Crab Ravine’


A Mill stood proud and tall
At this place called ‘Crab Ravine’.


Built of Soap and Margarine
On the rocks at ‘Crab Ravine’.


The scuttled across the shore
At this place called ‘Crab Ravine’


The Mill, unused, now a fish farm,
In this place of ‘Crab Ravine’


For crustaceans, not humans,
Thrive best, in ‘Crab Ravine’…

‘Crab Ravine’ is the Old Norse name for Geocrab in the Bays of Harris.
The title is from a crofter’s interview by the Napier Commission of 1883/4

Extracts from the Commission’s Report can be read here: http://www.ambaile.org.uk