In 1944 Sir TOM Sopwith purchased the North Harris Estate and in his book ‘Discovering Lewis and Harris’, James Shaw Grant writes ‘…whose yacht was crewed almost exclusively by Harrismen.’
It is not clear whether this referred to his yachts Endeavour and Endeavour II with which Sopwith challenged for the America’s Cup in 1934 and 1937, his earlier motor yacht Vita (1927-1929), or the 1937 Philante that was requisitioned during WWII and sold in 1947 to become the Royal Yacht of Norway.
It would be good to discover more about this aspect of an estate owner who, alongside the Scotts before him, James Shaw Grant describes as ‘good proprietors and were highly regarded’.
Sir E Scott is perhaps best known from the school in Tarbert that bears his name. The best source that I have found on the Scott family’s time(s) as owners of the North Harris Estate is to be found here and I heartily recommend reading it in full: Amhuinnsuidhe Castle
The article is extremely informative (for example, explaining the presence of the ‘Dunara Castle’ in Tarbert as discovered in the censuses) and reference is made to Sir Edward and his wife Emily and to their son Sir Samuel and his wife Sophie. It was these snippets of information regarding the names of their wives that allowed me to find out a little more about this particular Scott family.
I have no doubt that more details are recorded elsewhere, but none of the sources that I have accessed contain any.
The Baronetcy of Lytchett Minster was created in 1821 for Sir Claude Scott. Lychett Minster is a small village a mile inland from the sea near Poole in Dorset on the South coast of England. The holders of the title were:
Scott Baronets, of Lytchett Minster (1821)
Sir Claude Scott, 1st Baronet (1742-1830)
Sir Samuel Scott, 2nd Baronet (1772-1849) Member of Parliament for Malmesbury 1802-1806, and Camelford1812-1818
Sir Claude Edward Scott, 3rd Baronet (1804-1874)
Sir Claude Edward Scott, 4th Baronet (1840-1880)
Sir Edward Henry Scott, 5th Baronet of Lytchett Minster (1842-1883)
Sir Samuel Edward Scott, 6th Baronet (1873-1943)
Sir Robert Claude Scott, 7th Baronet (1886-1961)
Although Lytchett Minster was home to the title, the home of the Scott family was Sundridge Park in Bromley, Kent and an informative account of the house and gardens is to be found here: Sandridge
Sir Edward Henry Scott married Emilie Packe in the Summer of 1865 in Mitford, Norfolk and their son, Sir Samuel Edward Scott married Sophie Beatrix Mary Cadogan, a daughter of the 5th Earl of Cadogan, in the Summer of 1896 in Chelsea.
And that’s my brief introduction to the Baronets of Lytchett Minster, twice owners of the North Harris Estate…
I have added notes following the description of each Lot:
The Estate and Deer Forest of Borve, with the Farm of Borve, Island of Taransay, Forest of Luskentyre (let on a long lease) and excellent Salmon and Sea Trout Fishing.
Borve Lodge was Lord Leverhulme’s home on Harris. We see that he had let the Forest of Luskentyre.
The Port of Leverburgh, with Pier and fully equipped with Buildings for a Fishing Station
As the focus of the ‘improvements’, and where most of the money had been spent, it is no surprise that ‘Leverburgh’ appears second in this list.
House Property at Leverburgh
I presume these were the ones that had been newly-built to house the workforce.
The Rodil Hotel and Farm and Island of Gilsay, with first-rate Salmon and Sea Trout fishing in the famous Obbe Lochs and Finsbay Lochs
This is the old Rodel House and Farm but note the inclusion of Gilsay.
Kyles Lodge and Farm, with Salmon and Sea Trout Fishing and joint fishing rights in the Obbe Lochs
Kyles Lodge is an 1840s Georgian-style farmhouse and was home to the incoming sheepfarmer Alexander Macrae between 182? and 1874. It is where the early Sound of Harris ferry docked.
This is the farm to the South of Borve.
This is the next farm continuing South towards Northton.
Horsaclett House and Garden, with capital Salmon and Sea Trout Fishing
Situated in the Bays of Harris, past Direcleit and Ceann Dibig on the right of the A859 a mile past the start of the ‘Golden Road’.
Crofting Land in South Harris, including Berneray Island and smaller islands off North Uist
Berneray Island is 2,496 of these 33,870 acres. I mention that in order to provide a sense of scale.
The Island of Killegray
In 1841 it was home to the six members of shepher Kenneth Macrae’s family plus 62 year-old Dorothy Ross from Inverness.
NORTH HARRIS with Amhuinnsuidhe Castle and Deer Forest, Ardvourlie Forest, Ardvourlie Lodge, Harris Hotel and House Property, and capital Salmon and Sea Trout Fishing
The whole of North Harris, and nearly 53% of the total area, is in this final Lot. Ardvourlie ‘Castle’ has been ‘downgraded’ in the description and what began life as the ‘Tarbert Hotel’ appears in the name to which it is known to this day.
I make that a total of 116,731 acres, from a total of ‘about 355,000acres’ including Lewis, indicating that Harris is a tad under half the area of Lewis.
Ref: The original document can be seen here:
and I am extremely grateful to http://www.ceuig.com/ for referring me to it.
These are all the Gamekeepers found in the census returns for Harris.
I have separated them into South Harris and then North Harris and added notes for each decade:
Angus Shaw, 42, Geocrab, b. Harris
Finlay Macleod, 30, Visitor, Port Esgein, Farm of Strond, b. Harris
As Finlay Macleod is only visiting Port Esgein and is later found in North Harris he may well have been working on the latter Estate at this time. He and a Miller, John Macaulay, are at the home of the Shoemaking Kerr family with the ‘Paisley Sisters’ also living at Port Esgein at this time.
Angus Shaw, 50, Ardslave, b. Harris
Finlay Macleod, 44, Miavaig, .b Harris
We are awaiting the construction of the two castles of Harris in 1863 and 1867 but nevertheless it is surprising that these two remain the only ‘permanent’ Gamekeepers recorded.
Angus Shaw, 64, Strond, b. Harris
Murdo Macaulay, 57, Ardourlie Castle, b. Harris
Donald John Mackenzie, 45, House at Tarbert, b. Harris
James Robertson, 37, Main Road of Harris, b. Perthsire
Donald Scott, 28, Avensrudh Castle, b. Perthshire
Angus Shaw is still serving the South Harris Estate but we now have a Gamekeeper at each castle plus two more on North Harris.
John Finlayson, 28, South Harris, b. Stirling
Roderick Mackay, 32, Farm House, N Harris, b. Lochbroom
D John Mackenzie, 60, Stavke Loft, N Harris, b. Harris
Finlay Macleod, 63, Miavaig, b. Harris
Angus Macleod, 46, Luachair Keeper’s House, N Harris, b. Harris
Charles Macleod, 23, Bunamhewdara, N Harris, b. Harris
Murdoch Macaulay, 65, Keeper’s House, N Harris, b. Harris
Robert Macaulay, 25, (Unemployed), Son, Keeper’s House, N Harris, b. Harris
Frederick Macaulay, 29, 2 Ardvourlie, b. Lochs
Murdo Macfarland, 48, Assistant GK, 3 Ardvourlie, b. Ness, Ross-shire
John Finlayson has taken over the role at Rodel and we see 8 gamekeepers serving the castles and the North Harris Estate.
John Finlayson, 41, Rodel, b. Stirling
Roderick Macleay(?), 43, Hamlets Little Borve, b. Lochbroom
Donald Macleod, 47, Leaclee, b. Harris
Duncan Shaw, 45, Flodabay, b. Harris
Murdo Macaulay, 78, No 2, N Harris, b. Harris
Finlay Macleod, 75, Tolomochan House, N Harris, b. Harris
Charles Macleod, 32, No 2 N Harris, b. Harris
Frederick Maculay, 48, 2 Ardvourlie, b. Lewis
Borve Lodge, on the West coast, is represented now but the predominance of the North is still in evidence.
John Finlayson, 51, Rodel, b. Stirling
Roderick Macleay, 53, Little Borve, b. Lochbroom
Duncan Shaw, 52, Flodabay, b. Harris
Murdo Macdonald, 86, 2 Gamekeepers House, N Harris, b. Harris
Donald Macdonald, 22, 5 Solomochan cottage, N Harris, b. Kilmonivig, Inverness-shire
John Macinnes, 40, 2 Bunavoneadder, N Harris, b. Harris
Angus Macleod, 66, 1 N Harris, b. Harris
Samuel Morrison, 35, Laxdale(?), b. Harris
The previous pattern is maintained but whether the apparent drop from the 1881 heights is a true reflection of sporting activity or merely an artiface of the peripatetic nature of Gamekeeping is not known.
Anecdotally, one of my English Gamekeeping ancestors appears in one Census in a large group of Gamekeepers staying in a barn! They were clearly engaged in supporting a hunt away from their families at the time.
The other surprise has been to see that throughout the years a Gamekeeper has resided in the Bays of Harris, initially in isolation but then latterly accompanied by a colleague living in Rodel.
I have not yet established a construction date for Borve Lodge, today still in private ownership but now within the area administered by the West Harris Trust which combined the estates of Luskentyre, Borve and Scaristavore.
In 1863, Ardvourlie Castle, on the shores of Loch Seaforth, was built as a hunting lodge for the North Harris Estate which was being run my the widowed Lady Catherine and her Factor. It was let on a tenancy basis to sporting friends.
Charles, 7th Earl of Dunmore, decided that Ardvourlie Castle was too far removed from his sporting activities. In 1867 Fincastle was constructed, Fincastle being the courtesy title (Viscount Fincastle) of the first sons of the Earls of Dunmore, but it later was renamed Amhuinnsuidhe Castle after its location.
Here are the residents of each castle as seen in the censuses of 1871-1901:
Isabella Burns, 22, Domestic Servant, Ardvourlie Castle, b. Stornoway
Arabella Murray, 19, Domestic Servant, .b Ireland
Murdo Morrison, 21, Schoolmaster, Visitor, b. Carloway
Murdo Macaulay, 57, Gamekeeper, Ardvourlie Castle, b. Harris
Elizabeth, 54, Wife, b. Aberfeldy, Perthshire
Robert, 26, Assistant Gamekeeper, Son, b. Athline, Ross-shire
Jessie, 21, Daughter, b. Athline
Emma, 17, Daughter, b. Athline
John Macleod, 5, Grandson, b. Tarbert, Inverness-shire
Anne Braden, 47, Housemaid, Avensrudh Castle, b. England
Mary E Elliot, 16, Visitor, Niece, b. England
Donald Scott, 28, Gamekeeper, b. Perthshire
(Murdo Macleod, 60, Farmer, Scalpay, b. Fincastle, Harris)
This is odd as the castle was only built 4 years ago!
1879 – Ardvourlie Castle burnt down on Tuesday, 4th March
‘…built about 16 years ago at great cost by Lord Dunmore.’
Glasgow Herald, Thursday, March 6, 1879; Issue 12232
Betsy Macaulay, 32, Housekeeper, 1 Ardvourlie, b. Harris
Margaret Macleod, 26, House Maid, Cousin, b. Harris
Marion Mackay, 16, Visitor, b. Harris
Peter Macaulay Smith, 3, Visitor, b. Peterhead
Frederick Macaulay, 29, Gamekeeper, 2 Ardvourlie, b. Lochs
(Wife and 4 children all b. Harris)
Chirsty Mackenzie, 22, General Servant, b. Lochs
Murdo Macfarland, 48, Assistant Gamekeeper, 3 Ardvoulie, b. Ness, ross-shire
Elizabeth Covell, 32, General Servant (Domestic, Castle, N Harris, b. England
Margaret Macleod, 28, General Servant (Domestic), b. Harris
Euphemia Mackinnon, 32, General Servant (Domestic), b. Harris
Marjory(?) Macdonald, 35, House Maid, 1, Ardvourlie, b. Harris
Bella Mackay, 20, Third House Maid, b. Harris
Frederick Macaulay, 48, Gamekeeper, 2 Ardvourlie, b. Lewis
(Wife and 9 children)
Kate Mackenzie, 29, Housemaid Domestic, Finn Castle, b. Harris
Marion Mackay, 28, Under Housemaid, b. Harris
Ewan Macdonald, 25, Deer Stalker, Gamekeepers House, b. Kilmonivig, Inverness-shire
Flora Finlayson, 34, Housekeeper, b. Portree
(There are also several entries for 1 and 2 Gamekeepers House, N Harris but I intend focussing on those people associated with Gamekeeping in a separate article)
The most obvious feature is that none of the censuses have captured occupants other than employees and their visitors.
Whilst we can be fairly sure that the domestic staff were living in the castles themselves, those supporting the sporting activities appear predominantly to have inhabited associated houses.
Although I am slightly disappointed by the ‘thinness’ of these results, perhaps they demonstrate how small a part these castles played in the everyday lives of the 4000+ people of Harris despite they being the people who paid the highest price in establishing these ‘sporting’ venues on the Highlands and Islands…
…It is only now, with the purchase of the North Harris Estate by the people of Harris that they will begin benefiting directly from the income generated by Amhuinnsuidhe Castle.
Here are those born in England and caught by the snapshot in time of each census.
I have listed the Householder in brackets to give an indication of each person’s situation but have not included full listings for these households for reasons of brevity.
Each decade is followed by brief observations:
Harriet Black, 30, Assistant’s Wife, Scalpay
(Charles Black, 27, Assistant Lighthouse Keeper, b. Edinburgh)
Mary Maclennan, 40, Chelsea Pensioner’s Wife, Flodabay
(Neil Maclennan, 49, Chelsea Pensioner, b. Harris)
John Henry Short, 34, Inland Revenue Officer, Kentulavick
Sarah Short, 29, Inland Revenue Officer’s Wife
Richard H Watson, 32, Fish Merchant, Rodel
Henry G Watson, 12, Errand Boy, Nephew
Only half-a-dozen English-born but illuminating all the same: the Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife in Scalpay and that of a Chelsea Pensioner (who’s Military Record may be explored) in Flodabay, the Tax Man and family on the Sound of Harris and the fish Merchant just a couple of miles down the coast…
Joseph Allan, 36, Butler, Little Borve
Ann Allan, 36, Butler’s Wife
Elizabeth, 14, Daughter
Susan, 10, Daughter
Mary, 5, Daughter
Alexander Bain, 44, Ship Agent, East Tarbert
(John Morrison, 21, Hotel Keeper, b. Harris)
George B Williamson, 34, Master Mariner Merchant Service, Finsbay
Sophia Lauren Williamson, 24, Wife
William Hudson Williamson, 1, Son
William Lambert, 18, Apprentice Seaman
John William Jefferson, 16, Apprentice Seaman
Mary Maclennan, 34, Wife, Flodabay
Jane, 20, Daughter
Catherine, 17, Daughter
William, 16, Son
(Neil Maclennan, 56, Cottar Pension, b. Harris)
Borve Lodge doesn’t surprise us in employing a Butler, and clearly he brought his family sometime after 1856 but I wonder what his three daughters made of their new surroundings by the beatiful beaches of the West Coast? Mr Bain was passing through and hence is found amongst the throng at the Hotel in Tarbert but what of the maritime Williamson’s of Finsbay – did they stay long or was this a fleeting visit? Nice to see our Chelsea Pensioner Neil still surviving in Flodabay but where in England was he, with his wife, when his children were born?
Anne Braden, 47, House Maid, Avensrudh Castle
Mary E Eliot, 16, Visitor, Niece, Avensrudh Castle
Mary Maclennan, 60
Catherine, 25, Domestic Servant, Daughter
William, 23, Fisherman, Son
Jane Maclennan, 27, Wool Weaveress
The castles I have touched-upon before but the transcriptions are confusing and somewhat unhelpful. Sadly, Neil appears to have passed away but his family remain, presumably in Flodabay?
Elizabeth Covell, 32, General Servant, Castle North Harris
Lucy Macaulay, 32, (Unemployed) Gamekeeper’s Wife, North Harris
Robert G Macaulay, 4 months, Son
(Murdo Macaulay, 66, Gamekeeper, b Harris – Lucy’s Father-in-Law)
John Stewart, 5, Son, Kentulavick
(James Stewart, 22, Physician and Surgeon, b Fortingal, Perthshire
A contrast appears here between those serving the North Harris Estate and one providing an altogether different kind of service to the people. Little Robert G Macaulay was born when his Father was working in England, where he probably met his wife Lucy, but now the baby is at his grandparents home in Harris. I wonder whether he followed in his forebears footsteps and also became a Gamekeeper? Down South, little John Stewart’s father, whose age is probably 32?, is a Physician and Surgeon but where, I wonder, did he carry out his observations and operations?
Christina Macaulay, 16, Schoolmaster’s Daughter, Obb
(Peter Macaulay, 55, Schoolmaster, b. Perthshire)
Margaret Mckellar, 23, Hotel Keeper’s Daughter, No 2 East Tarbert
(Daniel Mckellar, 53, Hotel Keeper, b. Inverary, Argyll
John Stewart, 15, Scholar, No 15 West Tarbert
(James Stewart, 40, Physician and Surgeon, b. Aberfeldy, Perthshire
Sir John Carstairs McNeill, 60, Major-General Equerry to the Queen, aboard the Dunara Castle
Mr Macaulay who taught in Obb clearly travelled during his pedagogic career and I wonder whereabouts in England he was teaching in 1875 when Christina was born? Which hostelry did Daniel Mckellar serve when Margaret appeared in 1868? And where were James Stewart’s patients when John was born in 1876?
I have received information (for which I am extremely grateful), from a gentleman who is researching the history of Borve Lodge, telling me that Daniel Mackellar ‘was the proprietor of the Harris Hotel immediately prior to Tommy Cameron.’ It would appear, anecdotally, that Mr Mackellar was perhaps a precursor of the ‘Basil Fawlty’ school of hotel management.
These snapshots raise so many such questions, which is why I enjoy exploring them so much!
Milne Lothian, 12, Scholar, Nephew, Obbe
(Jessie Macleod, 48, Nurse and Midwife, b. Harris)
Christina Mackenzie, 25, Housekeeper, Daughter
(Peter Macaulay, 66, Retired Teacher, b. Killin, Perth)
We met Jessie Macleod when I investigated the Midwives of Harris but her Nephew’s name intrigues me.
I may pursue him later.
We end with the Retired Schoolmaster Peter Macaulay, remaining in Harris with his married daughter keeping house for him, the final image from these little windows on the world of the English-born in Harris…
List of souls on board:
John McDougall, 48, Master, b. Jura
George Macdonald, 36, Mate, b. Coll
William Anderson, 59, Chief Engineer, Cathcart, Lanarkshire
Daniel Currie, 32, Assistant Engineer, b. Glasgow
John Maclean, 30, Boatswain, b. Coll
Duncan Turney, 42, Able Seaman, Kilmoran, Argyll
Neil Mackenzie, 23, Able Seaman, b. Harris
Kenneth Macaulay, 35, Able Seaman, b. Harris
Alexander Campbell, 48, Able Seaman, b. Durnish, Inverness
William McCormack, 26, Able Seaman, Ross of Mull
Dougal Mckinnon, 31, Able Seaman, b. Tiree
Archibald Campbell, 44, Steam Winch Driver, b. Tiree
Henry Cunningham, 25, Fireman, b. Glasgow
Edwin McPhee, 46, Fireman, b. Glasgow
John Hartley, 28, Fireman, b. Glasgow
Donald Mcfarlane, 39, Steward, Waternish, Inverness
Kenneth Campbell, 21, Steward, b. Harris
Jessie MacGregor, 35, Stewardess, b. Kilmorrock, Inverness
John Graham, 32, Cook, b. Glasgow
William Donald, 58, Super Cargo, b. Dalrymple, Ayr
Neil McKay, 50, Crofter and Fisherman, Passenger, b. Harris
Margaret Macleod, 26, Domestic Servant, Passenger, b. North West, Inverness
The final instalment in my tracking of the SS Dunara Castle may lack the notable passengers of previous voyages but Alex Campbell, Able Seaman, remains with us.
Two of his fellows are from Harris, as is one of the Stewards, and the only passengers are a pair of Hearachs too.
I have searched in vain for any missing passengers, for the ship had room for forty-four, but it would appear that there are none.
We now leave the 25 year-old SS Dunara Castle, safely at harbour in Tarbert, in the knowledge that 29 years hence she will be carrying the last inhabitants of St Kilda on their final journey away from home…
I mentioned earlier that this vessel appeared thrice in the censuses and have pleasure in presenting the second tidbit for your delectation:
Charles Mckinnon, 45, Master, b. Coll, Argyll
Donald Maclean, 36, Mate, b. Iona, Argyll
Peter Mcgilip, 48, Boatswain, b. Crinan, Argyll
Alex Campbell, 37, Able Seaman, b. Mull, Argyll
Neil Mcinnis, 43, Able Seaman, b. Skye
John Mcdougall, 24, Able Seaman, b. Mull, Argyll
George Macdonald, 25, Able Seaman, b. Coll, Argyll
Archibald Macdonald, 48, Able Seaman, b. Islay, Argyll
Murdo Mcneill, 50, Donkey Engine Driver, b. Barra
John Maclean, 21, Ordinary Seaman, b. Skye
William Donald, 48, Shipping Clerk, b. Dalrymple, Ayr
John Marshall, 33, Chief Engineer, b. Glasgow
Donald Cameron, 34, 2nd Engineer, b. Glasgow
Charles Hume, 30, Fireman, b. Glasgow
Alex Mcalman, 35, Fireman, b. Mull, Argyll
Bernard Mcnamee, 36, Fireman, b. Tyrone, Ireland
John McConnel, 17, Trimmer, b. Glasgow
Alex Kay, 52, Chief Steward, b. Paisley
Charles Macintosh, 29, Steward’s Assistant, b. Portree, Skye
William Allan, 21, Steward’s Assistant, b. Glasgow
John Macintyre, 31, Cook, b. Oban
An McPhie, 26, Domestic Servant, Passenger
John Maclean, 15,
Sir John Carstairs McNeil, 60, Major-General, Equerry to the Queen, Passenger, b. Colonsay
Malcolm McNeil, 51, Visiting Officer Board of Supervision, Passenger
Neil Archibald McNeil, 13, Scholar, Passenger
Susan Carruthers McNeil, 45, Passenger
Ena Erskine McNeil, 16, Scholar, Passenger
Amy Sophia Chancellor, 14, Scholar, Passenger
The avid reader of this blog (should one exist!) will recognise several of the crewmen from 1881.
Although the address is only given as ‘North Harris’ the 1891 Enumerator was rather lacking in precision and we can be sure that the vessel was docked at Tarbert on Sunday 5th April 1891.
Two of the passengers are of particular interest:
Sir John Carstairs McNeil was a holder of the Victoria Cross and his story can be read here:
Malcolm McNeil played a pivotal role in the treatment of poverty in the Highlands and Islands including writing this paper on St Kilda:
‘Alleged destitution in the island of St. Kilda in October 1885. Report of Malcolm McNeill, Inspecting Officer of the Board of Supervision.
He also inspected conditions on Lewis as a result of the Park Deer Raid of 1887, the full story of which event can be found in the Angus Macleod Archive.
His presence on the SS Dunara Castle (the very vessel that would evacuate the last inhabitants of St Kilda nearly 40 years later) at the time of the 1891 census is another of those serendipitous events that makes perusing the past so pleasant.
Some other references to Malcolm McNeil that may be of interest: