End of the male line on Harris

Once I had completed researching my own lineage on Harris and Lewis, I thought that it would be interesting, and fairly easy!, to chart all of the Kerr families on Harris. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It has taken a considerable effort to amass the information.

The excellent thing about Scottish records is that they contain more information than their English counterparts and it only costs pennies over £1 to access an image. Compare that with the £9.25 for a (less-informative) Birth, Marriage or Death Certificate from England! Nevertheless, I have not accessed every single such record for Harris but sufficient for me to be able to present the following with a pretty high degree of confidence.

Oh, and my one complaint where the English records are superior to the Scottish, is that the indexing of those in Scotland is comparatively poor and one is charged to view each set of results, whether or not a likely ‘hit’ happens to be found within them.

These, the, are the 10 original ‘Hearth-holds’ (as I have elected to describe them!) from 1841.
I have only included the male descendants as their histories show how the name expired from the island:

A) Chersty (1761-bef1851) Tarrinsay, Hand Loom Weaver

B)Rock (1800-?) Strond, Tenant, Emigrated? bef1851

C) Rodrick (1800-?) Rha (Taransay), Ind, Emigrated? bef 1861

D) Peter (1796-) Glendsiluvaig, Tenant, 1851 – Kentulavick, Dry Mason, Moved to Argyllshire

E) Angus, Strond, Shoemaker (1791-bef1851) and Margaret (1790-1864)

e1) Donald (1816-1887)
Strond, Shoemaker, 1851 Farm of Strond, Shoemaker, 1881 Strond Merchant

e2)John (1826-1886)
1851 Farm of Strond, Port Esgein, Shoemaker, 1861 Tarbert, Grocer, 1871/81 Strond, Merchant

e2e) Donald (1858-1925) (John’s Son)
1901 Berneray, Road Labourer 1925 Strond, Crofter, Single

e2e1) John (1895-1958) (Donald’s ‘Illegitimate’ Son)
1958 Crofter, Single

F)John (1796-bef1861) Obb, Tenant, 1851 Obb, Farmer

f) Malcolm (1814-1894) Obb, Ag Lab
1861 Obe, Crofter, 1871 Smithy, Crofter 1891 Obbe, Crofter)

G) Marrion, Scarrista, Weaveress (1786-bef1871)

g1) John (1811-1879) Scarista, Carpenter
1851 Laskintyre, Joiner By 1871 he and his family had moved to Birkenhead, England

g2) Rodk 1816-1877 Scarrista, Carpenter
1851, Bowes, Farm Labourer & Joiner

g2g) John Kerr (1855-?) (Roderick’s Son) ‘Ayatollah Kerr’

H) Alexr (1796-bef1851) Tarbert, Fisher

h1)Malcolm (1816-1894) Tarbert, Fisher
1861 E Tarbert, Lobster Fisherman 1871 Boat Carpenter

h2)Donald (1821-bef1871)
1861 E Tarbert, Lobster Fisherman

I) Angus (1801-1867) Obb, Tenant
1851 Farm of Strond, Port Esgein, Ag Lab

i1) Angus (1826 -1910)
His career at Rodel I have described in detail elsewhere

i2) Malcolm (1831-1905)
Strond, Shepherd 1871 Strond, Cottar 1881 Strond Shepherd

i3) Roderick (1831-1891)
Post Runner, Single

i4) Wiiliam (1836-1862)

J) John(1801-1867 Dirachte, Tenant
1851 Direcleit, Tailor)

j1) Malcolm (1821-1898) Ag Lab
Moved to Stornoway by 1848 to pursue his seafaring career, remarry and produce my Lewis cousins

j2) Angus (1835-bef1881) One of Angus’ daughters leads to my only known cousin in Harris.
1861 Direcleit, Fisherman

j3) John 1839-1917(?)

j4) Donald (1843-?) 1891 Auctioneer’s Labourer, Glasgow

j5) Niel (1846-bef1871?)

j2j) John (Angus’ son) 1868-1950 1891 Direcleit., Fisherman

j2j1) John Kerr (prob911-1985, NOT born on Harris) (John’s Son) witness on his father’s Death Cert.

j1j) Roderick (Malcom’s Son) 1901 Obbe Farm Servant

j1j1) Donald (1885-?) (Roderick’s Son)
1901 Farm House, Herd Cattle on Farm

j1j2) Angus (1892-1963)

j1j3) John (Macleod) Kerr (1879-?) (Roderick’s Step-son)
1901 Obbe, Sailor/Tailor

j1j4) John Kerr (1902-? Died elsewhere)

This John, son of Roderick, son of Malcolm, son of John, son of Malcolm, was the last male Kerr to be born on Harris. He died elsewhere.

My grandfather was John, son of Annie, daughter of Malcolm, son of John, son of Malcolm.

One odd fact that I have noted is that those who ’emigrated’, whether to Lewis, Argyll or England, produced significantly more male heirs, both during their time on Harris and after.

There must be many in Argyll and England with Harris roots, but whether they are aware of them or not I have absolutely no idea!

Similarly, the daughters of some of the men who remained on Harris had families so, hidden within Harris amongst the more-familiar island names, are people descended from my original ‘Hearth-holds’ …

Note: I hope that the combination of letters and numbers used to identify each generation is reasonably easy to follow. I opted for it for reasons of brevity.


The Inn at An-t-Ob

I can only find two records for this establishment. The Inn can be seen on the 1st Edition Six-Inch Map of 1886, which is interesting given that the latest record in the censuses is from 25 years earlier. The location on that map can easily be identified on the current 1:25000 series – it is under the 15m Spot-Height just below ‘Kintulavig’ at NG012873. (Please see below*)

Malcolm Macdonald, 66, Merchant and Innkeeper, b. Harris
Margaret Macdonald, 57, Wife, b. Glasgow
Roderick Macdonald, 25, Son, b. Harris
Duncan(?) Macdonald, 18, Daughter, b. Harris

Isabella Campbell, 7, Granddaughter, b. Portree

Alexander Macdonald, 25, Servant, b. Harris
Johanna Ferguson, 16, Servant, b. Harris
Johanna Campbell, 18, Servant, b. Harris
Mary Maclennon, 20, Servant, b. Harris

John McRaitt, 20, Visitor, b. Burrwith, Inverness-shire

Malcolm Macdonald, 70, Inn Keeper, b. Harris
Margaret Macdonald, 68, Wife, b. Glasgow
Margaret Macdonald, 38, Policeman’s Wife, Daughter, b. Harris
Roderick Macdonald, 35, Merchant, Son, b. Harris

Isobel Campbell, 17, Domestic Servant, G Daughter, b. Harris
Duncan Campbell, 10, Scholar, Grandson, b. Portree
Margaret Campbell, 8, Scholar, Grandson, b. Portree

John Shaw, 21, Ag Lab, Servant, b. Harris
Kenneth Martin, 23, Ag Lab, Servant, b. Harris
Christina Munro, 25, General Servant, b. Harris

I have found a Margaret Campbell in Portree in 1851, with a 1 year-old son called Duncan, who’s husband Peter is an Inspector of Police. This appears to be a reasonable match with the Macdonald’s daughter and her three children.

The Inn’s location would have meant that anyone alighting from the Sound of Harris ferry at Kyles Lodge (which was the home of Sheep Farmer Alexander MacRae from 1820-1874) would have joined the ‘road’ by the Inn. That explains why it was built in what today appears to be rather an unlikely spot for a hostelry.
*The Sound of Harris Chart produced by Captain Otter in 1859 places the Inn much further into An-t-Ob at the foot of the road to Rodel. I think that this was the location of the Macdonald’s Inn and that the much later OS Map is displaying an altogether different establishment.

Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London 24 May 1858

In the Hebrides Captain Otter in H. M. S. Porcupine, with lier tender the Seagull, assisted by a good working staff, composed of Messrs. Dent, Stanton, Stanley, and Cramer, has examined the shores and islets of the Sound of Harris, comprising, with all their indentations, 155 miles of coast line, in addition to sounding over an area of 435 square miles.

It is remarkable to consider that, in surveying the Sound of Harris, they recorded a massive 155 miles of coast.

This is an important service rendered to hydrography, as with this chart and the accompanying sailing directions before him, the mariner may safely run for the passage between Harris and North Uist, which has hitherto been avoided by all who could possibly escape from it. The chart is in the engraver’s hands, and will be issued to the public in the course of the summer. At the same time Lieut. Thomas and Mr. Clifton have surveyed the rocky estuary of East Loch Tarbert, in Harris, and completed a chart of that remarkable inlet of the sea.

Unfortunately a relative ran into a Force 8 storm in the sound some 32 years later and lost a ship there. Liet. Thomas is, of course, the later Captain FWL Thomas, and husband of ‘Mrs Captain Thomas’.

In alluding to these and other charts of the coasts of Scotland, I have real pleasure, as one acquainted with the value of detailed land surveys, in expressing my admiration of the maps on the six-inch scale, exhibiting all the physical features, which Captain Otter, Commander Wood, and their associates have laid down for three miles inland. Such terrestrial coast surveys may enable geologists to come to accurate conclusions respecting the general structure of Scotland before the geographical details can be worked out on Ordnance maps representing the interior of the country, and which will probably not be published for many years to come, even under the vigilant superintendence of Colonel James.

The fact that they surveyed three miles inland tells us both how thorough they were and also why their task took several years to complete. As the author suggests, it was to be many years to come before the OS produced the first complete maps of the Isle of Harris. I haven’t found Captain James…yet.

You can view the 1857 chart online.

Note: A modern piece on hydrography that mentions this ‘pioneering work’ and has an interesting map of the Sound of Harris can be seen here and the original from which I took the extract is here.

The Little Minch Channel

These extracts are from The Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle for 1866 and give a clear and vivid impression of the seas between Skye and the Western Isles. I have left all spellings as they appeared in the original:

My experience in the navigation of the Minch has been collected in storm and calm, in snow and fog, amidst those difficulties and dangers with which it abounds…

…giving some idea of the weather in that remarkable channel the little Minch; to describe the sudden changes from a quiet calm to a tempestuous raging sea, that will prepare the navigator for what he is to expect there…

…it may be first stated that the Little Minch is the name of a channel or strait in contradistinction to the Great one to the northward of it.

…it will be seen that the Little Minch is a channel from thirteen to twenty-four miles wide, occupying a position between the Isle of Skye and the Hebrides or Western Isles of Scotland, on the West shores of Inverness and Rosshire.

The navigator who has passed through it knows well that it is exposed to the whole fury of the Atlantic Ocean, being entirely open to its southerly gales, and consequently is very seldom in an undisturbed or tranquil state. It is nevertheless the highway of vessels running between the ports of this country and those of Norway, Sweden, Lapland, Prussia, and Russia, carrying timber, tar, tallow, flax, &c. As might be supposed, in so important and extended a trade, vessels of heavy burden, and many smaller ones, frequent its waters in passing to the West coast of Scotland, England, or Ireland.

…the area of water surface which it contains is about 500 square miles: all of which has been minutely sounded, rocks, dangers, and fishing banks carefully searched for, and their places assigned them in the chart.

The greatest depth of water in it is 111 fathoms (666 feet), off Dunvegan Head ; and the least depth at a moderate distance (one mile) from the shores, 18 to 25 fathoms. It does not contain a single known hidden danger, except at its northern extreme, that will be mentioned in its turn.

The Little Minch contains three fishing banks, having depths from 23 to 35 fathoms, the ground composed of sand, shells, and sometimes rock, and perhaps some gravel.

The West side the Minch is very much sheltered from the sea and its westerly gales, by the isles of Harris and North and South Uist, which translated simply means western lands. An entrance from the western sea lies between the two former, named the Sound of Harris. A chart of this sound has been lately compiled by the captain and officers of the Porcupine and Seagull, that gives a good idea of this labyrinth of rocks and shoals, showing the laborious, hazardous, and even dangerous task it must have been to construct. The sound has a good channel, which, with moderate caution, may be used by vessels of any burthen, affording them shelter from the fierce and boisterous Atlantic, and a safe entrance into the comparatively tranquil waters of the Little Minch.

On the western side of the Minch the anchorages are numerous, and much frequented by vessels bound to the southward. Every loch affords a shelter, and the principal are, Lochs Tarbert, Greosavsgh, Stokenisk, and Rodel in the Isle of Harris. Lochs Maddy, Evort, Bahnacaplich, Uskevagh, and Loep, in North Uist; and in South Uist are Lochs Skiport, Ainneart, and Brisdale, with many smaller anchorages for coasters.

We will now ask the reader to turn his attention to the dangers of the navigation and the mode of avoiding them. To the mariner they already have appeared so formidable that he will naturally and anxiously wish to have them at a respectful distance.

The southern entrance to the Minch is quite free from dangers, and the yacht or even the deeply laden barque may fearlessly run into it. But at the north-eastern entrance there are some to be carefully avoided. These are, Sgeir i noe, Sgeir Graitich, Eugenie Rock, (on which a vessel of that name was lately wrecked,) Sgeir na mule, Ghiant South Rock, about 2 1/2 to 3 miles South-westerly of Shiant Isles; this is however, out of the limits of the Little Minch. These are what may be termed hidden dangers, but with the simple yet sufficient directions lately compiled by Captain Otter, of the Porcupine, they may be all easily avoided.

…gales are soon up, and the vessel that is caught in one had better run for snug quarters on their first appearance.

I do not know who the author of this document was, but perhaps those more-familiar with the style of Captain FWL Thomas can suggest whether or not  it might have been him?

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.

‘I will tell you how Rodel was cleared.’

It is presumed that the clearance was that of 1818 and the ‘young Macleod’ was Alexander Norman Macleod who had inherited Harris from his father, Alexander Hume Macleod, in 1811.
There were 150 hearths in Rodel.
150 hearths (note that is the warm heart of the home that he uses to count the households) and the 1841 census records less than 15. If we allow an average of 5 people per hearth, which I think is a reasonable figure for the time, then some 750 people were made homeless in this single Clearance.
Forty of these paid rent.
Forty paying rent tells us that the remaining 110 were either landless Cottars or, perhaps, farm workers etc whose salary was partly paid in the form of rent-free accomodation.
When young Macleod came home with his newly-married wife to Rodel he went away to show his wife the place, and twenty of the women of Rodel came and met them and danced a reel before them, so glad were they to see them. By the time the year was out,—twelve months from that day, these twenty women were weeping and wailing; their houses being unroofed and their fires quenched by the orders of the estate.
A poignant passage-imagine the scene of the Commissioners sitting and hearing those words spoken for the very first time, the images evoked, the way a soulless word’ cleared’ becomes a very human tragedy. All from a ‘Crofter and Fisherman’ from Scalpay, not a Barrister from Edinburgh!
I could not say who was to blame, but before the year was out 150 fires were quenched.
This hints that, rather than Macleod himself, it may have been the Factor’s fault?
Some of the more capable of these tenants were sent to Bernera, and others were crowded into the Bays on the east side of Harris—small places that kept three families in comfort where now there are eight.
Interesting, and perhaps a tad unfortunate?, that he uses the phrase ‘more capable’ in this context but perhaps he was merely reflecting the manner by which they had been selected some 65 years before this day in Tarbert?
Some of the cottars that were among these 150 were for a whole twelve months in the shielings before they were able to provide themselves with permanent residences.
I cannot begin to imagine how a family faced with the prospect of spending a whole year in the simple shelter of a shieling in the Summer pastures managed to survive. No doubt many members, particularly amongst the youngest and eldest, did not.
Others of them got, through the favour of Mrs Campbell of Strond, the site of a house upon the sea-shore upon places reclaimed by themselves.
Mrs Campbell was the ‘tackswomen’ of Strond and I am wondering whether this explains the ruins near Borrisdale that I think were the ‘Farm of Strond, Port Esgein’ of the later census but ‘upon the sea-shore upon places reclaimed by themselves’ is too ambiguous for me to be sure.
JOHN M’DIARMID, formerly Crofter and Fisherman, Scalpa (88)
Evidence to the Highlands and Islands Commission.

Although this is one of the oft-quoted pieces of evidence that the Commission received, I felt it worth a little more examination, not least because it might well explain how elements of my own ancestry came to be born in Strond and Direcleit (but not in ‘Bernera’!) in the following few years.