>’…and as many more in the adjacent Isles…’

>

The stimulus for this piece came from the ‘Parliamentary Abstracts; Containing The Substance Of All Important Papers Laid Before The Two Houses Of Parliament During The Session of 1825′.
In a table introduced by the sentence; ‘The following list shews the places at which churches have been directed to be built; most of them absolutely, a few provisionally:’ , I noticed that in the Parish of Harris on ‘Berneray Isle’ a church was to be built for the population of 500:
And as many more in the adjacent Isles of Pabbay and Killigray.’
Reading that, in 1825, the population of these three islands in the Sound of Harris was estimated to be 1000 souls I wanted to investigate further. Although a decennial census had been introduced in 1801, the first four of these only provide a figure for the population of the whole Parish.
For Harris, these figures were:
1801 2996
1811 3569
1821 3909
1831 3900
Our year, 1825, lies neatly between two censuses in which the population, despite all the displacements that were occurring, remained remarkably stable at circa 3900 people.
Thus the 1000 estimated to be living on our three islands were about one-quarter of the parish’s people reminding us that ‘Prior to the nineteenth century, the majority of the population of Harris lived on the machair of the west coast and on Pabaigh and its neighbouring islands (Berneray/Beàrnaraigh, Ensay/Easaigh and Killegray/Ceileagraigh)’ http://www.paparproject.org.uk/hebrides2.html
As an aside, we have this communication from the 18th of July 1832 which I think is illuminating.
The later censuses do provide figures for each island in the Parish of Harris and those for the years 1841-1871 are given below. I have shown the number of males and females and computed the average ‘people per hearth’ for each island with the trio of isles that are our focus shown in bold:
1841 – 7th June
Anabich 18 males and 23 females in 7 houses (41/7 = 5.9 people per hearth)
Bernera 335 males and 378 females in 130 houses (713/130 = 5.5pph)
Ensay 7 males and 9 females in 2 houses (16/2 = 8pph)
Hermitray 5 males and 3 females in 1 house (8/1 = 8pph)
Killigray 3 males and 2 females in 2 houses (5/2 = 2.5pph)
Pabbay 179 males and 159 females in 61 houses (338/61 = 5.5pph)
Scalpay 14 males and 17 females in 4 houses (31/4 = 7.8pph)
Scarp 60 males and 69 females in 23 houses (129/23 = 5.6pph)
Tarrinsay 38 males and 50 females in 16 houses (88/16 = 5.5pph)
There were 1056 living on our three islands which was almost 23% of the total of 4646 people in the Parish of Harris.
Five years later the first of the Potato Famines occurred and the response of the Factor can be seen in his letter of the 21st August 1846 to the Countess of Dunmore.
1851 – 31st March
Anabich 63 people in 12 houses (63/12 = 5.3pph)
Bernera 452 people in 89 houses (452/89 = 5.1pph)
Ensay 14 people in 3 houses (14/3 = 4.7pph)
Hermitray Uninhabited
Killigray 7 people in 1 house (7/1 = 7pph)
Pabbay 29 people in 6 houses (29/6 = 4.8pph)
Scalpay 282 people in 48 houses (282/48 = 5.9pph)
Scarp 145 people in 29 houses (145/29 = )
Tarrinsay 55 people in 11 houses (55/11 = 5pph)
Only 488 living on our three islands which was less than 12% of the Parish total of 4254.
Nine out of every ten people from Pabbay and one-in-three of the population of ‘Bernera’ had gone.
Just four days after the census, on the 4th of April 1851, the Factor John Robertson Macdonald in ‘Rodil’ was being ‘interrogated’ by Sir John McNeill and an earlier piece analyses his account.
We should also note the dramatic increase in the population of Scalpay that had occurred, the reasons for which are to be seen in this investigation.
1861 – 8th April
Anabich Not listed
Bernera 130 males and 185 females in 64 houses (315/64 = 4.9pph)
Ensay 10 males and 5 females in 2 houses (15/2 = 7.5pph)
Hermitray Not listed
Killigray 2 males and 3 females in 1 house (5/1 = 5.0pph)
Pabbay 10 males and 11 females in 4 houses (21/4 = 5.3pph)
Scalpay 199 males and 189 females in 71 houses (338/71 = 4.8pph)
Scarp 72 males and 79 females in 27 houses ( 151/27 = 5.6pph)
Tarrinsay 25 males and 30 females in 12 houses (55/12 = 4.6pph)
There were just 341 living on our three islands or about 8% of the 4174 people of Harris.
Once again, almost one third of the remaining people of Bernera had gone leaving just under half the hearths from the 130 of two decades earlier.
1871 – 3rd April
Anabich Not listed
Bernera 169 males and 204 females in 75 houses (373/75 = 5.0pph)
Ensay 4 males and 2 females in 1 house (6/1 = 6pph)
Hermitray Not listed
Killigray 3 males and 6 females in 1 house (9/1 = 9pph)
Pabbay 3 males and 5 females in 2 houses (8/2 = 4pph)
Scalpay 222 males and 199 females in 82 houses (421/82 = 5.1pph
Scarp 78 males and 78 females in 33 houses (156/33 = 4.7pph)
Tarrinsay 35 males and 33 females in 12 houses (68/12 = 5.7pph)
A small increase to 390 living on our three islands but still only just reaching double-figures again at 10% of the the people of the Parish.
Bernera’s population had risen by 18% but the island trio would have needed nearly three times as many residents to regain the proportion of the population that had led to the church being built there only four-and-a-half decades earlier…
Note: I have left all spellings as they appear in the original sources, except that those for the census lists are ‘standardised’ from the 1841 census rather than reflecting the variations that appear in some of the subsequent decades.
Sources:

Sound of Harris – High Resolution Seabed & Biotope Maps

My fascination with this particular expanse of water shows no sign of ebbing so I was delighted to discover two new (to me!) aspects that have been mapped:

NetSurvey’s High Resolution Seabed Mapping is stunning in its detail and especially interesting as it extends close to the Harris coast between Rodel & Strond.

The oblique view (3rd image from the left ) indicates how Port Eisgein offers the only haven in the South-East corner and suggests to me a site ripe for marine archaeology to explore.

Scottish National Heritage supply us with this PDFon Biotope mapping which is a highly technical document that I do not pretend to completely comprehend but which includes many interesting & attractive maps.

Finally, I heard today from Mapyx QUO that on the 28th of February they are releasing digital versions of UK Hydrographic Maps. No prices or other details have been announced but this is a welcome addition to their collection which is already an excellent and affordable mapping resource.

Enjoy!

Schooling along the Sound of Harris

For the third of this series looking at education and educators during the 19thC I am grouping considering what we can glean about the then populous South coast.
From the 1st Edition OS 1-inch map (1885) of the area, we see two locations for schools:
An-t-Ob NG025863 (Details & Photo ) and Strond NG032841. The 6-inch map also informs us that in each case the school was for ‘Boys & Girls’. I think a double-fronted bungalow at this location may be the school.
1841
Donald Murray, 40, P Schoolmaster, Rodil, b. Scotland
1851
Isabella Mackinnon, 31, School Mistress, Wife, Obe, ED3, b. Harris
(Donald Mackinnon, 39, Catechist & Farmer, b. Harris plus 5 children ages 1 to 10 and a female ‘House Servant’)
1861
James Stewart, 40, ParishSchoolmaster, Oab, ED6, b. South Uist
(Margaret Stewart, 34, Wife, b. Harris plus 7 children ages 5 months to 12 years and a female ‘General Servant’)
1871
Mary Mcaulay, 21, School Mistress, Industrial School, ED6 b. Stornoway
Anne Mcaualy, 23, Sister, b. Stornoway
Christina Mcaulay, 13, Scholar, Sister, b. Stornoway
1872 – Education Act
1881
Kenneth J Mackenzie, 27, Teacher, Strond, b. Ullapool
Christina Macleod, 29, housekeeper, b. Harris
1891 – None Listed
1901
John Whiteford, 46, Certificated Teacher Elementary, Obbe, ED2, b. Kilbirnie, Ayrshire
Mary Whiteford, 43, Wife, b. Kilbirnie, Ayrshire
Agnes Mary Laird Whiteford, 14, Monitor (Teacher), Obbe, ED2, b. Glasgow
Margaret Whiteford, Scholar, 12, Daughter, b. New Cumnock, Ayrshire
(Peter McCaul, 66, Retired Teacher, Obbe, ED2, b. Killin, Perthshire)
The presence in 1841 of Schoolmaster Donald Murray in ‘Rodil’ reminds us that it was the Church, and other Societies, that provided education at this time. Although Rodel does not feature on the list of schools provided by the ‘Society for the Support of Gaelic Schools’ in 1821 this does not mean that 20 years later it was not they who were responsible. However thinking about the 6th Earl of Dunmore’s recent acquisition of the island and his rebuilding of St Clement’s Church at Rodel tends to point in favour of Donald Murray having been a Parish Schoolmaster at this time.
The situation in 1851 is much clearer for now we have the household of Catechist & Farmer, John Mackinnon, living in ‘Obe’ and including his teaching Wife. If the school on ‘Obbe Road’ had been built by this date then I am confident that the family with their servant were its residents.
Their place appears to have been taken by 1861 by James Stewart and his family. Stewart was the teacher in Borve in 1851 and would no longer have been required there following the second Clearance which took place in 1853 to benefit the Sheep Farmer Kenneth Macdonald. In 1871 James Stewart was an Inspector of Poor in Strond and by1881 had become a School Board Clerk still living in Strond.
The only teacher in the area in 1871 is Mary Mcaulay and the only reason that I can place her here is because my relative Roderick Kerr was one of those living at ‘Obe Shop’ which was within Enumeration District 6. Mary’s address is intriguing for it is the only reference to an ‘Industrial School’ in the area that I know of. However, we do know that first an Embroidery School and then some form for educating Stocking Knitters had been introduced by the Countess of Dunmore & Mrs Thomas and it seems likley that Mary, coming from Stornoway where she may have been educated at the Female Industrial School , merely imported this slightly grandiose term to add weight to her role in Harris. She was, after all, only 21 and apparently solely supporting her two sisters at the time.
In 1881 the schools at An-t-Ob, whether industrial, parochial or Public, do not feature but we do see our one and only record of a teacher in Strond in the shape of Kenneth J Mackenzie. It seems likely that the school at Strond originated as a result of the 1872 Education Act but I cannot be certain. The situation in 1891 is even worse for there are no teachers recorded that I can place with confidence in the area, although it may be that the Retired Teacher, Peter McCaul who we find in Obbe in 1901 had previously served that school. In the same year it is John Whiteford, assisted in her ‘Monitor (Teacher)’ role by his 14 year-old daughter Agnes Mary Laird Whiteford, who is found teaching in Obbe.
In conclusion, I am confident that the school on ‘Obbe Road’ provided education for the second-half of the 19thC and that, at times, it was accompanied by a Public School in Strond and by some degree of ‘Industrial’ education. Let us not forget Captain Alexander Macleod’s 18thC educational provision in the upper reaches of his ‘Mill’ in Rodel that John Knox remarked upon, either!

Some Example Raw Data

Using the technique as described produced the following returns:

Loss 34,700

Loss + Minch 2,440
Loss + Stornoway 1,090
Loss + Sound of Harris 129

Loss + Coal 2,320
Loss + Coal + 19thC 1,910
Loss + Lime 237
Loss + Salt 510
Loss + Cement 50

Loss + Oats 145
Loss + Barley 141
Loss + Turnips 18
Loss + Carrots 3
Loss + Carrots + Turnips 2

Loss + Schooner 5,370
Loss + Brig 2,000
Loss + Ketch 317
Loss + Clipper 18

Loss + Minch + Coal + Schooner 17

Much care has to be taken for there are many factors including multiple recordings, the occurrence of words elsewhere on the returned page that my not be applying to the particular vessel, etc; but I think these few examples demonstrate that the technique has some potential as a research tool?

CREST Voyages of 1899

I left my account of the previous year’s voyages with the arrival of the Crest in Belfast on the 23rd of January 1899 .

Aboard were her Master, Alexander John Kerr, and his crewmen Donald Macmillan, Malcolm Munro and John Macleod who had joined the ship at Oban following the death of Alexander’s father, Malcolm Kerr.

On Feb 1st she sets sail for Larne which she reaches on the 4th. The figures for her draught and freeboard suggest that she was unladen. Having loaded their cargo, the men leave Larne on the 1st of March and arrive in their home port of Stornoway on the 10th. As usual, Alexander John doesn’t specify his cargo but lime would be a reasonably likely commodity at this time. The men spend a fortnight at home before the unladen Crest sails for Larne on the 24th of March. She doesn’t arrive until the 10th of April but whether this was because of the weather or, perhaps, ‘other reasons’ is open to conjecture!

Once loaded, they leave Larne on Mayday and reach Gairloch on the West Coast of the Scottish mainland on the 7th of May. They return to Stornoway on the 19th, crossing the Minch on the same day. In Stornoway John Macleod is discharged, Alexander John rating his conduct and ability as ‘Vg’. Oddly, the date of John’s discharge is shown a week earlier on the 12th of May but I am pretty sure that this is just another instance of the retrospective nature of the form-filling. On the 22nd of May John’s replacement appears in the shape of Donald Macdonald, a 43 year-old from Lochs who is a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer’s.

The Crest is loaded, perhaps with Herring, and on the 25th she departs Stornoway and arrives in Castlebay on Barra on the 26th of May. Cargo safely delivered, the empty vessel leaves on the 5th of June and makes Larne on the 10th. Loaded, she leaves Larne on the 26th of June and reaches Stornoway on the 29th, suggesting that this 47 ton ketch was no slouch even when loaded to the gunwhales. On the 7th of July Donald Macdonald is discharged with Alexander’s inevitable ‘Vg’s.

I do not know precisely for how many years Alexander John and his father had worked the coastal trade together but these voyages were the first such set that he undertook on a vessel that he owned without his father’s presence and it must have been a poignant moment when he completed the Crew Agreements without putting ‘Malcolm Kerr’ in the first space beneath his own name.

Significantly, none of the seamen of 1899 are given the status of Mate or Bosun that Malcolm held.

On the 12th of July 43 year-old Alexander John and 55 year-old Malcolm Munro are joined by 60 year-old John McRae from Habost in Lochs who joins fron the ‘Mary Ann’ of Stornoway. The crew is completed by an 18 year-old ‘Boy’ called Alexander John Maciver from Stornoway. He is the Master’s nephew and my own grandfather’s Half-Brother. He bears his Uncle’s name and would serve in and survive WWI .

The 17th of July see the laden Crest setting sail for Carloway which she makes on the 1st of August. It was whilst making this same journey in January 1890 that Alexander John Kerr had lost the ‘Spanker’ in the Sound of Harris in the vicinity of An-t-Ob.

There are four more voyages for 1899, in each case the Crest appears unladen, and they were from Carloway to Stornoway on from the 12th to the 13th of August, Stornoway to Portree on the 12th to the 13th of September, from Portree back to Stornoway from the 7th to 8th of October and finally on the 2nd of November from Stornoway to Loch Eshart, reaching there on the 18th of November.
Whilst in Stornoway, John McRae left on the 11th of October but wasn’t replaced until the 1st of November when John McDonald, a 48 year-old from Harris, joined the crew. He, together with both the Alexander Johns, stayed with the ship in Loch Exhart but on the 22nd of December Malcolm Munro left them. It is unfortunate that, whilst new crewmen had to give the name of their previous vessel, those departing do not record the next ship (if they had one) so we cannot tell how Malcolm Munro returned to his home in Stornoway.

The Crest ‘Remains in Loch Eshart’ and, until I purchase the Crew Agreements for 1900-1903 when she was wrecked on the 18th of April 1903 , that is where we shall have to leave her…

Porcupine and Woodlark

I was hoping that following these two Royal Navy Survey vessels might assist with my research into the work of Lieutenant FWL Thomas who in 1845 was appointed as Master of the Woodlark.
This was the ship that he was using to survey the Western Isles whilst Captain Henry Otter had HMS Porcupine engaged on the same task. Prior to this, Fred Thomas had been surveying the Orkney Isles with his father, George Thomas.

Unfortunately the key records, those of 1851 are non-existent, but I think the two may have been in the Atlantic on work associated with preparations for the first Transatlantic Telegraph Cable. It has been pointed-out to me by my kind correspondent that there are letters from Captain FWL Thomas confirming the Woodlark’s presence in Alloa (a mere 10 miles upstream from Culross) in the late 1840s and 1850. Once again, I am most grateful to her for bringing the significance of this to my attention. Captain Otter was in Portsea visiting a Royal Engineer and as this was the branch of the Army that dealt with surveying we can assume that they were discussing matters relating to their work.

However, by 1861 an Orkneyman, James Sutherland, 44, was Master of the Woodlark and he, together with his wife and three children, were aboard her in Harris. This reveals not only a new Master but also her continued presence in Harris. Even better, he has his family with him showing us that Lieutenant Thomas having his wife Frances in tow was not unique. The Porcupine was in Portree with her two Second Masters aboard. Captain Otter was in England with his wife visiting his brother in Dagenham..

By 1871 the Porcupine is in Sunderland (the Woodlark elsewhere) and in 1881 both vessels are at Minster on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. In this year and in 1891 the Woodlark’s Master, Mark Aaron, has his wife and children with him continuing the trend that at least two earlier Masters had set.

Overall I think that these little snippets of information are helpful in giving us just a little more insight into the role of these vessels and the lives of those who were in charge of them – not forgetting the children who must have had a wonderful, if somewhat unusual, education!

NOTE: I have new information regarding these two vessels: This Woodlark was disposed-of in 1863 and the Porcupine in 1883. Clearly the Woodlark of 1881 and 1891 cannot be FWL’s ship, but I’ve left this piece as written not least as a reminder that there are still plenty of red herrings in the sea!

Roderick’s Story

Roderick Kerr was born in 1845 at Direcleit to Malcolm Kerr and his wife Bess Macdonald. Bess died, possibly as a consequence of his birth, and Malcolm moved to Lewis where, three years later, he married Mary Macdonald of Steinsh. Despite searching Croft Histories and censuses, I have been unable to learn anything about Bess or her family.

Roderick was left to be raised by his grandparents, John the Tailor and Margaret, with whom he stayed until at least 1861. If the phrase ‘left to be raised’ sounds a little harsh to modern ears, it must be remembered that t was the usual practice in such circumstances in those days. It was also used sometimes to ‘hide’ ‘Illegitimacy’, a fact that can confound the family historian! Roderick became a fisherman and, despite his Uncle Angus being a fisher in Direcleit, made his home in An-t-Ob, the Sound of Harris being where many family members lived.

On the 2nd of February 1869, Roderick married Mary Morrison at Scarista. One of the witnesses was his cousin Rory Kerr, the Post Runner of Strond. The couple were living in the ‘Obe Shop’ in 1871, or rather were one of the 18 households with that address! They were predominantly fishers, a boat builder and Paupers, but the nucleus was the home of Roderick Macdonald, his wife Sarah (Grant) and their young family. Roderick was the son of the landlord of the Inn at An-t-Ob and had married the much-younger Sarah a few years earlier in Forres, Moray. Roderick the Fisherman and Mary had no children and she died before her 40th birthday.

On the 22nd February 1881, Roderick the Fisherman and widower married Margaret (Peggy) Maclennan at Scarista. Where Mary had been nearly five years his senior, Peggy was some fifteen his junior!. She came with a 2 year-old son, John Macleod, although she was a Spinster at the time of the marriage. The 1881 census shows us the new family in Obbe whilst along the road at Kyles House were the Macdonald family employing 8 people on their farm.

In 1885, Margaret gave Roderick a son of his own, Donald, and in 1889 their daughter Christy was born. So, in 1891, the family of five were in Obbe but with Roderick now working as an Agricultural Labourer and his step-son is now known as John Kerr. Up the road, the Macdonald family are still at what is now called Farm House.

By 1901, Roderick and Peggy’s family had grown with the arrival of Angus and Kate in 1892 and 1895. Still living in Obbe, Roderick was now a Farm Servant and Peggy’s son John listed as a Sailor. Donald, meanwhile, has moved and we find him at the Macdonald’s Farm House where the 16 year-old is ‘Herd Cattle on Farm’. At the house are Roderick (Farmer and General Merchant) and Sarah, their married daughter Margaret A Macleod, a Domestic Servant, a visiting Tweed Weaveress and a Shop Assistant, as well as young Donald. I believe Roderick to have been employed by the Macdonald’s too.

Sarah was the ‘Mrs S Macdonald’ who, as a member of the Scottish Home Industries Association, wrote the famous account of the origin of Harris Tweed and of the Stocking Industry. I think it important to point out that Sarah was only 26 at the time of her marriage in 1868 so, if her account is accurate and the industry was begun in 1844, she was born around the same time as Harris Tweed itself!

Peggy produced another son in 1902 and he was called John. Nine years later, Peggy’s Sailor son John died at sea and Roderick himself, in An-t-Ob, in 1919. Peggy survived him by some 30 years and Angus lived until 1963. Donald and John died elsewhere and at times unknown to me. What became of the daughters, Christy and Kate, is also a mystery for they neither married, nor died, on Harris.

So that is the end of this tale of Roderick and his family, including another of those coincidences that links, albeit tenuously, one of my relatives to the tale of Harris Tweed…