Lewis and Harris

Chronicon Manniae et Insularum (Chronicle of Man and the Isles) 1164-1225.

‘Reginald gave his brother Olave a certain island called Lewis which is thinly peopled because it is mountainous and rocky and is almost totally unfit for cultivation. Olave took possession of this island and lived there ever so scantily. Finding the island could not support himself and his followers, he went  to his brother Reginald and spoke to him thus: “You know, my brother and king, that the kingdom of the Isles was mine by hereditary right, but as the Lord chose you for its governor, I do not grudge it you.  But I beg that you will allot me land somewhere in the Isles for my own decent maintenance as the island of Lewis which you gave me is unequal to my support.”  Reginald promised to take advice on the matter but when next day  Olave had come by summons to speak with the king, Reginald ordered him to be seized, bound, and carried in chains to William, King of Scotland, to be kept prisoner at Marchmont Castle.  Olave remained prisoner with the King of Scotland nearly seven years before he had his chains removed and was restored to liberty. Returning from the Isle of Man from pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint James of Compostella, Olave again visited his brother Reginald who this time received him in a friendly manner. Reginald caused his brother Olave to marry Joan, the daughter of a man of rank of Kintyre, sister to his own wife and great-grand-daughter of Somerled the Great, and again gave Olave the island of Lewis, upon which Olave took his leave of his brother and dwelt there’ .  

Towards the end of the 800’s the relative stability of the Island of Lewis was rudely awakened by Vikings, on opportunist raids to begin with, but by the middle of the 900’s they settled in many of the coastal areas and made farms and permanent residences.  A few Viking era buildings remain,  the best examples for the visitor to see are the Mill and Forge near Shawbost, now renovated and Liamshader near Carloway.  The Vikings also left a very important set of artistic relics in the Lewis Chessmen.  The real impact of the Vikings though was on the environment as they were heavy users of timber and relied on it for their houses, boats and fuel.   The native woodlands were soon consumed and this vital resource was finally seriously reduced by a Viking leader called Magnus III who instigated a ‘scorched earth’ policy.   The Viking era came to an abrupt end after the Battle of Largs in 1263 when King Haakon of Norway was defeated by King Alexander the third of Scotland.  Within three years, all of Norway’s lands in the West were returned to Alexander.  Probably this political change meant very little to the well settled Viking farmers who must have been well integrated into the island.  However, several clan families were able to establish themselves under the new Scottish regime.  The Clans were of mixed Viking and Celtic origin, some of them with traceable names from Norse leaders like ‘Leod’.  His sons were therefore Son of ‘Leod’, or MacLeod.  The place names of Lewis maintain a mixture of Viking and Celtic origin as do many Gaelic words, however, the enchanting soft lilt to the inflexion within the dialect of the modern islander form Lewis is probably the most noticeable trace of this ancient fusion.   

Despite the supposed austere nature of the Long Island as portrayed in the Chronicle of the Isles, its beauty is apparent from the images shown in the Virtual Hebrides website.  The northernmost part of the Long Island is called Lewis (An Leòdhas) and next door is Harris (Na Hearadh). Despite the use of the terms ‘Isle of Lewis’ and ‘Isle of Harris’, the two names ‘Harris’ and ‘Lewis’ refer to the two parts of the same island. Lewis is, in general, the lower lying part of the island, with Harris being the more mountainous. The Long Island has become well-known as a magnet for nature-lovers drawn to the wildlifenot to be found anywhere else in the British Isles.  Lewis is well known for its Druidic standing stones at Callanish and the Brahan Seer (Coinneach Odhar), born Kenneth Mackenzie in the 16th Century and known as the Scottish Nostradamus, came from Baile-na-Cille in the Parish of Uig .  Amongst his predictions were :

North Sea Oil: “A black rain will bring riches to Aberdeen”
The Highland Clearances: “The sheep shall eat the men” .
Culloden: “In Drumossie, heads will be lopped off by the score”

Harris is best known for its world-renowned tweed which has sustained crofters the length of the Long Island in work for centuries and which has found renewed popularity with fashion houses Lewis is widely known to be closed on Sunday since Presbyterianism swept the Outer Hebrides in the 1820s and 1830s.  Many Leodhasach church-goers now opt to go with the Free Church which disestablished from the Presbyterian Church, much as the Presbyterian Church had itself disestablished from the national Church of Scotland. A disputed benefit that the Presbyterian Church brought to the islands was Sabbatarianism which was welcomed in the 1800s by a population which had to endure seven days a week of agrarian toil. The only works allowed are “works of necessity and mercy” such as cooking dinner, rescuing a sheep from a ditch, working as a nurse in a hospital, a GP on call, a firefighter or a police officer. Shopping, unnecessary travel, school homework, computer games,  sports, housework, watching TV or gardening are generally out and many will take offence at those who hang their washing out on a Sunday. Individual households and churches will have their own variations and the very strict might ban  washing the dishes,  listening to services on radio or tape, and using public transport even to go to church. The Western Isles are not uniformly Free Kirk, or even completely Presbyterian. While the northern islands of Lewis, Harris, Scalpay, Berneray and North Uist are mainly Protestant, the ‘Southern Isles’ of South Uist, Eriskay, Barra and Vatersay are largely Roman Catholic.

Although one of the most isolated places in the United Kingdom and like the rest of the Western Isles, the young men of lewis played their part in the defence of the realm during both World Wars and many paid the final price. A particularly tragic event and one that is still alive today in the collective memories of Lewis folk was the sinking of the ‘Iolaire’ troopship. Within reach of Stornoway harbour, the local populace witnessed the drowning of their young men who had survived the war in Europe. Around the early part of the 20th century, many crofters from Lewis  sought employment in the new sheep ranches of Patagonia. Life in the isles was poor  and opportunities for advancement few. Patagonia, despite its remoteness, offered the chance to make a better living. Skilled shepherds were in high demand an, in some cases, islesmen rose to positions of responsibility, such as ranch managers, something unimaginable in the crowded subsistence economy back home.

Counted among the best of the many Gaelic creative writers, singers and artistes that Lewis has produced over the years has been Murdo MacFarlane (1901 – 1982)  known as the ‘Melbost Bard’ (Scottish Gaelic: ‘Bàrd Mhealboist’) who was a published poet and campaigner for Scottish Gaelic. Born and brought up in Lewis, Murdo travelled to North America in the 1920s and served in World War II. His poetry was taken up by Na h-Oganaich in the 1970s and this exposure has led to Murdo’s work being made popular by bands such as Runrig  (lead singer, Bruce Guthro from Cape Breton)  and Capercaillie (lead singer, Karen Mathieson from Oban) in places such as Denmark and the United States. The beauty and eloquence of the words in his emigrant songs are exemplified in  “S fhada leam an oidhche gheamhraidh” :

‘N am do’n fheasgar a bhi ciaradh,
‘S tric a bhios mo spiorad cianail;
Smaoineachadh g’ el cian nan cian uam,
Far ‘m bu mhiann leam dhol a cheilidh.

56 responses to “Lewis and Harris

  1. rhomac

    September 5, 2013 at 1:54 am

    I am looking for MacIver family information, specifically from the Isle of Lewis, Stornoway. I do not know parents’ names, but I know some children names. Donald MacIver, John MacIver (born 1906) and Angus MacIver. I believe there was a daughter, Jessie, as well. Their father owned some type of truck or bus company. Any information would be great.

    • Rev. John C. Mac Iver

      November 11, 2013 at 3:51 am

      Im also looking for a John Mac Iver who served in the Navy in WWII and settled in NJ and had two sons with two different women. Kenneth and John. He died in the early ’80s.

  2. Eairdsidh Caimbeul

    February 3, 2012 at 12:53 am

    The photograph is of Tobermory in Mull, Lewis and Harris website?

    • Don MacFarlane

      February 3, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      Tha sin ceart gu leor – quite correct, well spotted. The subterfuge was because of the lack of a photograph of Stornoway or Tarbert of good enough quality. If anyone has such and forwards it to me in JPEG format, I would be delighted to put that up instead.

      Also, Genweb is looking for a web host for the Argyllshire website (Tobermory and Bute included) so anyone with an interest can let me or Nathan Zipfel know.

  3. Tina MacLeod

    August 14, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Me again, still no joy with GGGG-grandfather Donald Macinnes but I have “discovered” death records for a John Macinnes (b 1858 d 1936), a brother of my GG-grandfather.

    A Donald John Macinnes (b 27/7/1860 in Rhenigidale, d 3/4/1926 in Eilean Anabuich) was married to an Effie Shaw. Has anyone got any info on the Shaw family? Effie (or Effy or even Euphemia) would have been born I suppose around 1860. Donald John’s brother, Angus Macinnes (13/8/1872 – ?), registered Donald John’s death. Can anyone tell me where Eilean Anabuich is??

    • donfad

      August 14, 2011 at 9:09 am

      The location of Eilean-Anabuich is the easy bit – see map for ‘The Clachan of Rhinigidale – as it is up the coast of Loch Seaforth, looking across to Maraig. According to Geograph, Rhenigidale itself had no road access until 1989 and was a three mile walk over a steep moorland path to get to it.

      The Geograph photo for Eilean Anabuich is listed as Eilean Anabaich:

      Another source (Carmichael Watson Collection) gives it as Eilean Anabruich and tells of Donald Shaw’s account of catching two lobsters in 1874.

      In the immediate surrounds, mainly of Maraig are:

      For more pictures of Maraig or anywhere else, Google e.g. ‘Geograph Superlayer Maraig’.

    • direcleit

      August 14, 2011 at 9:11 am

      The location is as described here:

      In 1861 a fisherman, Donald Shaw, was living there with his family, including his daughter Effy.

      • donfad

        August 14, 2011 at 9:29 am

        ‘Eilean Anabuich’ or Eilean Anabaich seems according to ‘Diricleit’ to be The Unripe Island – very appropriate as the Geograph photographs appear to show the whole of the western shore of Loch Seaforth to be very barren indeed. Whatever marked Anabuich as being particularly unripe is anybody’s guess though? The derivation seems to fit as anabaich or anabuidheach in Gaelic would indeed mean unripe, or premature or underdeveloped (in Lewis on the other hand, just up the road, buidheach means jaundiced, not ripe – as I discovered when I inadvertently insulted a Lewis woman who overfed me once!). Why Eilean (for Island) is another conundrum – as the promontory with an isthmus, which could be taken for an island, is up the loch at Maraig?

      • Tina MacLeod

        April 29, 2012 at 5:48 am

        Thanks for all that info but I thought I would share a wee update of my research into my connection to the Shaws of Eilean Anabuich. I’ve since discovered that Effy’s brother Roderick (c1854-1893) was married to Salvia MacInnes who in turn was a niece of my GG grandfather Duncan MacInnes (1827-1908) and a sister of Donald MacInnes of Nostar, skipper of the Evening Star, lost in a storm on 8 December 1893 and whose foundering has been well documented. A very tragic story indeed.

        • norman macinnes dick

          October 1, 2012 at 12:01 am

          Donald macinnnes was my great grandfather and my grandfather was Norman Macinnes who was ten months old when the boat was lost with all hands,

        • Finlay J Macinnes

          April 23, 2013 at 10:55 pm

          Duncan Macinnes d 06/03/1908 in Rhenigidale was also my ggf.

  4. donfad

    July 27, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Ontario Government Party Assisted Emigrations 1923-24

    Note that most of the emigrants are descibed as Farmworkers although they had little or no experience of farming. This was to satisfy the requirements of the scheme that applicants had to at least pretend that they could work on a farm (for £15 a month) once they arrived in Canada. Males also had to be more than 5 foot 9 in height and more than twelve stone.

    A selective sample of emigrants, chosen to illustrate the spread of surnames in Lewis (more of that later) other than the common ones of Nicholson, Murray, MacLeod, Morrison, MacIver and MacAuley:

    Murdo Beaton Farm Worker Vatisker (7)
    Kenneth Macrae Farm Worker Coll Back (18)
    Colin Campbell Farm Worker Brue (7)
    Neil Paterson 20 Brue Barvas (ditto)
    Donald Murray Farm Worker Borve (11)
    Murdo Martin Farm Worker Lower Shader (9)
    Angus Smith Farm Worker Cross
    Chrissie Munro Domestic Newpark (4)
    Chrissie Kennedy Domestic Calbost (5)
    Hugh Fraser Engineer Graver (9)
    Roderick Maclean Labourer Back (30)
    Kenneth Montgomery Farm Worker Garyvard (12)
    John Macsween Farm Worker Shader (39)
    Andrew Finlayson Farm Worker Eoropie (16)
    Roderick Nicolson Labourer Ranish (16)
    Malcolm Macarthur Joiner Achmore (3)
    Roderick Mackinnon Labourer Caversta (2)
    Kate Graham Housewife Habost (12)
    Malcolm Stewart Labourer Bayble (36)
    Roderick Crichton Tailor Stornoway (123)
    Hector Macinnes Farm Worker Tolsta (19)
    Mary Buchanan Domestic Mangersta (2)
    Murdo Simpson Farm Worker Aird Tong (40)
    Donald Macbride Domestic Adabrock (1)
    John Saunders Farm Worker Shader (39)
    Murdo Lee Farm Worker Garrabost
    Murdo Kerr Farm Worker Stornoway
    Robert Dayfield Farm Worker Stornoway
    Bessie Rennie Domestic Tong
    Chris MacMillan Schoolchild Upper Garrabost

    Murdo MacFarlane, Poet, Melbost
    Perhaps speaking for all reluctant emigrants from Lewis, MacFarlane’s lament (popularised even more by Capercaillie) speaks of the desolation of the Canadian Prairie and a longing to be back home.

    ‘S fhada leam an oidhche gheamhraidh
    ‘S fhada,’s fhada,’s fhada leam i,
    ‘S o, chan fhaic ach préiridh lom mi
    Cha chluinn tonn a’ tighinn gu traigh mi

    Faili, faili faili ho ro
    Faili, faili faili ho ro
    Faili, faili faili ho ro
    ‘S cian nan cian o’n dhág mi Leódhas

    ‘Nam do do ‘n fheasgar bhith ri ciaradh
    ‘S tric a bhios mo spiorad cianail
    Cuimhneachadh g’ eil cian nan cian uam
    Far ‘m bu mhiann leam dhol a chéilidh

    The total number of emigrants from these Lewis parishes during 1923-4, for the most part on the ships Marloch and Metagama, was 465.

    • donfad

      July 30, 2011 at 8:52 am

      Donald ‘Tulag’ MacLeod (Ness) in Detroit

      “What struck me most in New York was when I spoke to a Stornowegian in English they would answer me in Gaelic! I would say ‘ I can’t figure you Stornowegians out – back home, if I spoke to you in Gaelic you would answer me in English!’. I never really understoof the Stornowegians anyway. They seemed to look down on us people from the countryside”

      From ‘Metagama’ by Jim Wilkie from Mainstream Publishing (1987).

    • donfad

      July 30, 2011 at 9:03 am

      Angus MacDonald (Ness) in Buffalo, New York.

      ” When I saw the train of horses, that was enough for me. There was no point in me trying, I wanted to be on the water. That was my life. I asked for a job on a passenger boat and the first thing he said was ‘Can you row a boat?’. There was chunks of ice in the harbour as big as a table, so I rowed around them and skulled back. ‘What do I need now’, I said and he said ‘A lifeboat ticket’! I thought he was joking but then he said ‘Tell me the provisions for a lifeboat’. I said I can’t tell you in English but I can tell you in Gaelic’. He said ‘Where are you from’. Says me, ‘Lewis’. He says, ‘you’ve got your ticket. The best seamen came from the Minch!”

    • donfad

      July 30, 2011 at 9:16 am

      Norman ‘Broxy’ MacKenzie (when trying to enter US from Canada illegally).

      ” I didn’t tell the immigration man a word of truth except that I was born in Scotland. He says, ‘I believe everything you say except that you were born in Scotland. You’ve got the map of Ireland all over you!’ (British but not Irish subjects were allowed through without a visa).”

  5. Tina

    March 17, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Hi Peter

    Just thought that I would add that 1857 marriage of Duncan Macinnes and Marion Morrison records Marion’s usual place of residence as being Quidinish (I suppose that would tie in with the marriage taking place at Manish) and his as being Rhenigidale.

    Just from curiosity, do you know of any books / publications that might have photos recording the old ways of life on Harris?

    • direcleit

      March 17, 2011 at 10:37 am

      Hi Tina,
      Yes, I would imagine that the close proximity was a key factor but the availability of a Minister to perform the service was sometimes a consideration too, so that a couple being wed in a particular church cannot be relied upon as confirming their adherence to either the Established or the Free Church.

      I am not aware of any comprehensive photographic record having been published but there are some old photos to be found in several different books. Online sources such as Am Baile and the RCAHMS contain many such images and I have sometimes been lucky in chancing upon them.

      I hope that helps?
      All the best,

  6. Tina

    March 11, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Hi everyone, I’m hoping someone out there might be able to help me.

    My grandfather was Duncan Macinnes who was born in Bunavoneader in 1901 (d 1983). His parents were John and Ann Macinnes (nee Campbell) who had 10 children in all and I am researching his family but have hit a brick wall. I’ve managed to trace Granddad Duncan’s family back to my GGG grandfather Donald Macinnes who would have been born circa 1800 (give or take a year or two) but I am just so frustrated that I can’t find him recorded anywhere!!!!

    Arggghhh….Can anyone point me in the right direction…I’ve searched Scotland’s People but have drawn a blank there. Is it possible that Donald may have been born elsewhere in the Outer Hebrides and that I’m looking in the wrong island?? Any info, comments would be very welcome.

    • direcleit

      March 11, 2011 at 9:31 am

      If your grandfather was Duncan son of John son of Duncan son of Donald then your GGG gfather could possibly be the Donald Mcinnes who is to be found in 1841 in Molinginish, Harris? This is very near the later locations where Duncan and John appear in the censuses from 1861 onwards.

      However, without rather more information on the families it it impossible to be certain and I cannot be sure where any of them were in 1851 which is unfortunate.

      As to where Donald may have been born, unless he can be found in a later census, then it could have been anywhere in Inverness-shire (or further afield).

      Sorry I’m not be able to cast much light on this but, depending on how much you have already discovered about your great and great, great grandfathers’ families, you may be able to learn more.


      • Tina

        March 12, 2011 at 3:24 am

        Thanks for that, I’ve got a copy of the 1841 Census for Molinginish and the children’s ages but they don’t seem to match up with the info that I’ve managed to get via Scotland’s People but here’s what I do have:

        Granddad Duncan was born in 1901 in Bunavoneader to John and Anne Macinnes. He died in 1983 in Glasgow.

        GG grandfather John was born in 1860 and died in Bunavoneader on 18/12/1936, (he was a gamekeeper and note there is a reference to him on one of your pages on this site in relation to a census) . He was married to Anne (m.s. Campbell) and they were married on 22/2/1887 @ Urgha (the Free Church). They had 10 children and I’ve got the records for all those children and parents from Scotland’s People. The first 3 were born in Rhenigidale, the rest in Bunavoneader. I’ve got some records for these children but not all

        Anne Macinnes was born on 24/12/1864 in Rhenigidale and died in 1934. Anne’s parents were John (b. circa 1833) and Christina (b. 1833?m.s. Morrison). I don’t have dates of death for Anne’s parents.

        John and Anne’s children were:
        1. Duncan b. 1927 d.1827 (lived 20 minutes) Rhenigidale
        2. Marion b 6/4/1889 Rhenigidale d. 1963 Harris
        3. John b. 8/7/1891 d. 1957 Harris
        4. John Angus b.1/12/1892 d. 23/6/1917 Bunavoneader
        5. Donald b.4/1/1895 d. 1988 Glasgow
        6. Chirsty Ann b. 17/12/1897 married John Macleod on 28/1/1930, d. 4/4/1931 Bunavoneader from complications following child birth (John’s parents were Roderick and Annabella Macleod [Macdonald] and he had at least two siblings, Roderick was his brother and registered Chirsty Ann’s death)
        7. Duncan (my dear grandfather) b1900 d. Feb 1983 Glasgow
        8. Margaret b. 11/2/1902 d. 1988 Harris. She married a Norman MacLennan in 1936 (haven’t got round to looking at this yet)
        9. Angus b.21/11/1905 d. 1999 (I remember this G uncle being at my own father’s funder in 1994!! – he travelled from Harris to Fort William for it)
        10. Frederick born about 1911 d. 1996. He possibly married a Macdonald from Stornoway (not got to this yet)

        John’s father, GGG grandfather Duncan Macinnes was born between1827 / 1831 and died on 6/3/1908, aged 81 years. he was married to Marion (b.circa 1832, d 29/4/1904 m.s. Morrison) on 25/11/1857 in the Free Church. The marriage records list Duncan’s usual place of residence as being Rhenigidale, – parents Donald Macinnes (tenant) and Chirsty Macdonald. Marion’s parents are listed as being Donald Morrison and Euphemia Macdonald.

        GGG grandfather Duncan’s death certificate lists his place of death as Boisacharlish? (sorry the writing’s not great on the death register) but usual place of residence as Rhenigidale although there is a corrective entry at the side which refers to Reg of Corr. Subs Vol I Page 28, 8 June 1908. Parents are detailed as being Donald and Chirsty Macinnes (m.s. Macdonald). GG grandfather John registered the death.

        And that as they say is that which brings me back round to GGGG grandfather Donald. I’ve got his wife Christina’s death record. She died on 14/11/1865 at Rhenigidale and records her as being “widow of Donald McInnis, Crofter”

        Perhaps you might be able to help after all

        • direcleit

          March 12, 2011 at 11:20 am

          That’s superb and I think I may have a little more to add now:

          In 1861 a Christina Mcinnes b 1801, Harris was in Rhenigidale with 5 children aged from 18 to 40. ie b 1821-1843 (Effy, Anne, Margaret, Donald, Neil). Her occupation is ‘Formerly Domestic Servant’.

          In 1851 she is listed as a 50 year-old Crofter in Rhenigidale with Mary, 32, Duncan,30, Effy, 30, Anne, 28, Christina, 23, Margaret,18, Donald, 16, Neil, 10, (ie b. 1819-1841) Donald Mclennan, 4 (Grandson) & ‘Child Nameless’, 2 (Grandson).

          The 1841 entry for Molinginish lists a Donald with, presumably his children, Norman, Mary, Ann, Effy, Duncan & John aged from 3 to 20 ie b 1821-1838.

          If the 1851/1861 family is the correct one and I think it fits your facts, including the forenames of those found in later generations)) then I suggest that Donald had died between 1841 & 1851. The 1857 Marriage Certificate should indicate if he was deceased?

          The 1841 family could still be correct. Ages and even birth-order were sometimes/often incorrectly recorded and, if an older child died, a younger one might well be given the same name. Christina was quite possibly giving birth to Neil elsewhere at the time!

          Equally, the whole family might have been somewhere else but I haven’t found them in Inverness-shire, Ross-shire, Argyll or Sutherland with the sole exception of that (possibly correct) record from Molinginish.

          You mentioned the Register of Corrected Entries – there should be a ‘button’ on the page that allows you to see an image of that entry which is certainly worth a look.


      • Tina

        March 17, 2011 at 8:45 am

        Hi Peter
        Thanks for all your efforts and I’ve had a look at the different census from 1841 through to 1861, and then I had another look at the marriage entry for GGG Grandfather Duncan Macinnes (m Marion Morrison 14/11/1857 in Manish at the Free Church). Donald is alive at that point so obviously he died some time between 1857 but before his wife Chirsty (Christina) who died in 1865 as she listed as a widow on her death entry. So that’s something I have to check out a bit further. Cheers for that, still got lots of work to do tho’ connecting all the dots….

        • direcleit

          March 17, 2011 at 11:13 am

          Hi Tina,
          I’m glad to have been able to assist a little.
          My guess is that, as Christina does not state that she was a widow in either 1851 or 1861, Donald was probably still alive. His absence could be due to him being at sea (my own GGgrandfather was absent from the 1851 & 1871 censuses for this very reason) or, and this is highly conjectural, he might have been in Canada!
          Do let me know if you have any luck in locating him.

          • Tina MacLeod

            September 30, 2011 at 8:59 pm

            Hi Peter

            Still no luck in locating my elusive GGG grandfather Donald McInnis (1800-ish) but, on looking at the 1851 Rhenigidale census under a magnifier, it looks like Christina was a widow in 1851. I can’t be definite about it because the enumerator has unhelpfully put a pen through the column but, on comparing the handwriting on the rest of the records, that’s what it looks like so, ho hum, here we go again! Of course that changes my search parameters for dear old Donald. I’ve got heaps of info now about the MacInneses marrying into Morrison, Campbell and MacLennan families right through the different generations, and between the Rhenigidale/Molinginish areas and Quidinish/Ardslave areas. I’ve also noticed that the family names are starting to have a bit of a pattern. Oh well, better get the detective cap on again and go sleuthing. I have a lead on a Norman McInnes (1770-ish) from Molinginish who could possibly be Donald’s father. Someone also helpfully gave me a couple of pages of the crofts in Urgha where I’ve found my great grandfather John’s sister, Effy (b 1865), married to Kenneth MacLeod of Urgha. I’ve got heaps of info now, just got to try and make sense of it all!

  7. Guido

    February 22, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    “Direcleit” has already kindly highlighted the Harris Memorial site which lists the Fallen from Harris from both world wars.

    The approximately 1300 men from Lewis who fell in the First World War are remembered on Faces from the Lewis War Memorial, and the 450 lost in the Second World War on World War II Memorial for Lewis.

    The 205 casualties of the Iolaire Disaster are remembered on this site.

    The men from the islands of Berneray, North Uist, Grimsay, Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay, Barra and Vatersay who made the supreme sacrifice are listed on the Berneray to Vatersay tribute.

    • Don MacFarlane

      February 23, 2011 at 11:11 pm

      Footage and music to honour the brave from YouTube

  8. direcleit

    February 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Family Names in the Western Isles:

    Informative websites on origins of family names in the Western Isles are Family Names and More on Family Names

    These succinctly explain the points made in the Southern Shaws pieces, Section I and Section II.

  9. Laurie

    February 22, 2011 at 12:48 am

    Is it just tradition that a particular site is known as a pagan site? I wasn’t familiar with the term Annant. The “net” claims it’s a site dedicated to the Hebrew-Phoenician goddess, Anaitis or Anath. That certainly goes back a bit!

  10. Don MacFarlane

    February 20, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Memorials to the Fallen from Harris in the World Wars

    can be found at:

    Dileas gu Bas means ‘Faithful until Death’, reminiscent again of the poetry of Domhnall Ruadh Chorunna in his poem ‘An Eala Bhan’ who wrote from the trenches.

    MacLennans who gave the supreme sacrifice were from Drinishader, Rhenigidale, Scalpay, Hushinish, Manish, Stockinish and Leverburgh.

  11. Catherine

    February 19, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Maclennan…..I am looking for information on Farquhar Maclennan who was born Sept 1856 in Harris…His parents were Neil Maclennan and Mary Macdonald…..Last record I have of him was when he was 15,,,,,wondering if he perhaps left to go to America… Does anyone have any information on any Maclennans???

    • direcleit

      February 19, 2011 at 11:04 pm

      Hi Catherine
      A good place to start regarding emigration is: and some useful sources are listed on my own blog too:

      As Farquhar and his father were fishers then it is possible that he perished at sea and this may or may not have been recorded.
      There are 3 deaths between 1871 & 1940 of Farquhar Mclennan’s born in 1856 +/-5 yrs that appear in the records on but I have not looked to see if any of these match with your Farquhar, and none of them are within the ‘Minor Records’ that include those who died at sea. His absence from the later censuses might also have been a result of his occupation (although those at sea on the night of the census were supposed to register once reaching land, this did not always happen).

      I do have a few Maclennan connection of my own on Harris but I have come across an interesting feature of some of these families: They were sometimes recorded as Maclellans which, as theirs was one of the more frequently found names on the island, makes tracking them even more complicated!

      • Don MacFarlane

        February 20, 2011 at 12:32 am

        An extensive history on the Maclennans of Kintail and Glenelg places their origin in Kintail and their appearance in Harris would seem to be the result of internal migration – not unusual even in these times as Kintail is next door to Skye, hence a skip and a jump from there to Harris across the Minch.

  12. direcleit

    February 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    May I direct you to my blog that researches aspects of the History of Harris. The Farm of Strond was part of the Tack of Strond and Killegray

  13. Sherri

    January 9, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Alastair, isn’t it possible that some Shaws sided with Campbells, as well as with some MacLeods?

    Where is Killegray exactly?

    Perhaps the Shaws were groundskeepers and defenders of the one-time MacLeod Estates which became Campbell Estates?

    The history is hard to understand but even today I know some Shaws resented the coming of the Campbells and they continued to side with the MacLeods, or perhaps some sat in the middle?

  14. Sherri

    January 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Of interest to me, Laurie, is that I found a Donald Shaw married in PEI to a Catherine McQueen. He was born in 1806, which suits the age of a twin brother of my John in PEI, but I had originally thought he died due to family tales. Now I am not so sure. Someone in the family carved a stone with the name, Donald, and put it in the cemetery here. This tells me they thought it was that Donald and I can confirm theMacQueens he married into came from Skye. I have to get to archives but I have been wondering if perhaps my family came later than I first thought to PEI. I considered 1819 but the first land lease in the names of the sons, John and Neil, is not until 1834. I have much to uncover still but I continue to look at Harris as the possible connection to my Shaws.

    Love to chat more

  15. Sherri

    January 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Archibald in Trumpan was groundskeeper to the MacLeod Estates in Skye while his brother Ivar’s son Donald in Trumpan in 1680-1700 was groundsofficer to a Donald MacLeod of what looks to read Confullich. He went to Bemesay as ground officer in 1738 and his son Donald in 1760 went to Harris. I read with great interest about an Archibald Shaw being left as groundsofficer for MacLeod Estate. As wars progressed around them his parents left him with the MacLeods – perhaps they were running from the Campbells?

    I am interested in chatting with Shaws mentioned (Laurie?) in Nova Scotia and even New Brunswick and I see that Harris Bay in PEI is now called Rustico Bay – I think maybe named after those from Harris, though its just a thought.

    I see Archibald is only listed as a name in the Shaw trees of Dalnavert, Kinrara and the Western Isles; likewise with the name Norman. These two names do not appear on any other Shaw map or tree. I wonder if Norman married a Catherine Morrison, or could he have been a Donald Norman or a Norman Donald – are they one of the same? Again, just food for thought. The Dalnavert line starts with the Alex in Achanhatnich who married Janet Grant and this line leads to William of Dalnavert, with a son James, and a daughter Ellen who married a McDonald and had a son John A. MacDonald (Prime Minister of Canada).

  16. donald munro

    January 7, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I am looking for decendants of John and Flora (MacKillop) Munro who moved to Laxdale, Stornoway in the 1800s. I am a grandson of Alexander Munro and Ann MacLeod. Any more info on uncles and aunts would be greatly appreciated. I have some to gladly share from Winnipeg.

  17. Don MacFarlane

    January 2, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Old Soldiers of Uig (Napoleonic Wars)

    Lieutenant John Munro
    Murdo Macleod (Murchadh Mac Leoid), Crowlista.
    John Maclean (Iain Ruadh Mac Mhurachaidh Shaor), Mangersta.
    Angus Maciver (Aonghas MacMhurachaidh Bhain), Carnish.
    Malcolm Macleod (Calum Saighdear), Brenish.
    Norman Morrison (Tormod Ruadh), Kneep.
    John Smith (Seoc Beag), Pabbay.
    Murdo Matheson, Crowlista.
    Evander Maciver, Pabbay (c1787-c1861).
    Donald Buchanan (Dohmnall Mac Dhonnachaidh), Brenish.
    Donald Maclean (Domhnall Mac Choinnich), Kneep.
    John Macleod (Iain Slaodach), Crowlista.
    – Macleod (An Saighdear Ban), Timsgarry.
    Mac Aonghas Saighdear, brother of Uisdean Iarsiader.
    – Macleod (Mac Choinnich Aonghais), Crowlista.
    Norman Macleod (Tarmod Buidhe, or perhaps Ban), Mangersta.
    Malcolm Smith (Calum Gobha), Enaclete.
    John — (Iain Mac Chaluim), Carnish.
    Donald — (Domhnall Mac Chaluim), Carnish.
    Malcolm Macarthur, Bernera.
    Murdo Smith (Mac Mhurchadh Godha), Ungeshader.
    Donald Maciver (Domhnall Taillear), Baile Nicol (now part of Ardroil). John Macaulay (Iain Mac Thormoid), Crowlista.
    Malcolm Smith (Calum Olach, Calum Mac Chaluim Ban), Valtos.
    – Macleod, Erista.
    Donald Smith (an Fidhleir), Kneep.
    Malcolm Maclean, Pabbay.
    Norman Maciver, Pabbay and Kneep. .
    John Morrison, Carnish in 1850.

  18. heather maher

    July 12, 2010 at 8:37 am

    My Grandfather was Donald Mackenzie who came to South Africa.
    He came here with his wife Jessie ( nee Macrae – from Glenelg). They had 3 children Catherine, Roderick and Hughina
    My mom was the last of there 3 children to pass away in May 2010.
    I am currently trying to find any info available about the family history.
    Many thanks,

  19. chris boddington

    February 24, 2010 at 10:39 am

    My mother was Isabell Martin Macleod daughter of Captain Kenneth Kennedy Macleod (Seaforth Highlanders WW1)from Achmore
    She emigrated with her husband to Australia after WW2

    I visited my mother’s sister Catherine Macleod & husband Wattie (Archibald) in early 70’s who have since died. I have lost touch with my cousins Ruth, Fiona (Barvis?), Isobell & Kenneth

    Can you put me in contact with any of my family?

    • Charles Doolin

      August 14, 2013 at 11:15 am

      Hello Chris, I stumbled upon this forum while searching for information about my Great Grandfather Capt KK Macleod. My mother is Isabella (sister of Ruth, Florence, Kenneth & Catriona) and her married name is Doolin. She now lives in Buckie. My name is Charles and I’m her son. I live in Newcastle. If you need any contact information then get in touch

  20. Sherri Smith

    January 14, 2009 at 12:59 am

    I too am interested in the Shaws of the Western Isle – not sure of what area. I am back to an Archibald Shaw born in Scotland (maybe Colonsay/Jura) and wed in Colonsay – his descendants landing in Canada in 1800’s.

    From the book History of Clan Shaw by Major Torradoch he gives family trees of many Shaws, with lines not yet as filled. I am trying to connect to this line of Shaws, as per his book because it seems to be the only line with name of Archibald, Johns and Donalds of the many in his collection. This tree begins with Iver, son to Alex Ciar MacIntosh to sons in Trumpan, Harlosh, later to MacLeod estates as ground officers, to others in Diurinish, Skye, to finally a Donald in Harris, a John in Bemesay ? and a Malcolm in Bemesay? Do they maybe mean to print Bemeray?

    This group is listed as the Shaws of Harris and Skye in this book and one written with similar title by Norman Shaw. I think there is room for error on these as well, which maybe is why I find it hard to pin-point my line. Perhaps death years or births are off a tad in their circas….but very close.

    Anyone wishing to chat about Shaws from this area, I would love to hear from via personal email as well . replace AT with email @

    • Laurie

      February 18, 2010 at 10:12 pm

      A wonderfully helpful person sent me this:

      I will give you the entire section on page 37 (HE 145, reference)
      Register of Emigrants from the Western Isles of Scotland 1750-1900, vol 1–Isle of Harris, by Bill Lawson

      Alexander Shaw (c1780)
      married Sarah (surname unknown)

      Norman (1811-) m Catherine Morrison
      Ann m MacQueen
      Kirsty (1819-) m Donal Morrison
      John (1826-) married 1 name unknown, 2 Ann MacDermid

      Alexander Shaw emigrated from Harris in the 1820s and settled at St. Ann’s Victoria County, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

      I am wondering if this Ann is my ancestor. One of her sons is named Norman, the only place I have seen this name pop up. They emigrated around the same time as my ancestors-maybe together? However, my Anna was born around 1805.

      • Sherri

        January 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm

        Hi Laurie, thank you for the information on the Shaws in Lewis and Harrison per Bill Lawson. It was interesting to see this Alexander moving to Nova Scotia in about 1820. I wonder who it is he is referring to when he says Alex and this Sarah had the children who are listed? I ask because what I have on record is:

        Donald Shaw in 1760-70 went to Harris, his brother John to Bermesay and his brother Malcolm to Bermesay.Donald’s children are listed as: Iain Mor mac Dhomnnaill ‘ic Iomhair, Iain Og, Mary and Angus. I was told Iain stood for John but I have found this is not perhaps true – perhaps Niall, with Neil coming from the old Niall of the Nine Hostages of Clan McNeill? I see John’s son Kenneth had a son Donald, also married to a Morrison. Catherine Morrison is listed as a second cousin and they had a son Rodreick who had a son Rod who worked on the Caledonia Canal in 1972.

        I believe that my Shaw line comes from Donald and that one of these Iains is mine. However both books, Torrodach’s and Norman’s, both write that these Shaws can’t trace their line past a Donald, though they trace Donald’s brothers. This seems strange to me and as I continue to look closely at Harris, I can’t explore Colonsay back any further at this time. One thing I did note was that the years are slightly off in places on the maps in these books. I think that the Donald who went to Harris also may have gone to NS.

        In summary, is the the same as your list of children by this Alexander and Sarah (unknown)?

        • Laurie

          February 21, 2011 at 2:44 pm

          I don’t have any other source for that Shaw family, but it seems to match what few facts that I have. The key that helped was the use of Sarah/Marion for the name Morag (I think). It fits the naming convention that my ancestor continued after arriving in America-the second son was called Alexander and the second daughter Marion, presumably after Anne’s parents. There is a third son called Norman, possibly after her brother. The name of the next son, John, pops up on both sides of the family. I’m not sure how they may be related to your wonderfully well-documented Shaws. I need to read over all this lovely info recently posted and see if there are any possible connections!

        • S. Morrison

          March 8, 2013 at 7:21 am

          These names sound familiar in my family line, a descendant from Donald Morrison and Christy Shaw. I haven’t done extensive searching on the Shaw side just yet, but I do have some info. Alexander Shaw m Sarah. Their children: Norman Shaw m Catherine Morrison, Angus, Ann/Marion m McQeen, Christy Shaw m Donald Morrison, and John Shaw m ? Catherine, then m Ann MacDermid.

          • Laurie

            March 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm

            Hi S. Morrison

            I guess that makes us “cousins” then! Are you in Canada? Have you had a chance to visit Harris?

      • Laurie

        February 24, 2011 at 6:47 pm

        Just a follow up to my own posting-found John + Ann, Norman + Catherine and Kirsty (Christy) + Donal(d) Morrison all in North Gut, Victoria, Nova Scotia in the 1881 Canadian Census.
        Well, that was easy…

    • direcleit

      February 20, 2011 at 4:59 am

      I have blogged a ‘reply’ to yours and a few of the other enquiries regarding this group: OR
      All the best,

      • Laurie

        February 22, 2011 at 12:34 am

        I don’t think that it would be a big stretch to think that your Effie Shaw and my Shaws are possibly related if they were all from Strond/Srannda. That they originally came from Skye would explain why the last name doesn’t seem to be that common.

        I wonder about surnames in general-there is much lore about where different families came from going back 500 years (thinking of the “incomers” to South Uist in 1400s), so how was that preserved if surnames weren’t in use? My great grandmother Marion McQuien wrote a note that her father’s family “were originally MacDonalds”. Does that just refer to the fact that they were living on MacDonald territory? Or if someone was known as John son of Donald son of Niall the Tailor, wouldn’t they be eventually known as Johnson or MacIain or, perhaps, Tàillear? Was family history preserved orally and the family names assigned at a later date?

  21. Don MacFarlane

    November 24, 2008 at 9:31 pm


    A story of Lewis servicemen interned in Holland during the Great War of 1914 – 1918, written by Guido Blokland can be found at

  22. donfad

    April 25, 2008 at 12:22 am

    To assist with this query, do you know if these Shaws are of the Sitheach, MacGhilleChainnich or MacGhilleRiabhaich branch of the clan Shaw?

    How did they end up in Killegray which was always a very sparsely populated island in the Sound of Harris? Were they brought to Uist by Clanranald, moved from Jura or what?

    Also, where is Kilmuir in North Uist. I am familiar with the one in Skye only.

    I have reasons for asking these questions which I can enlarge upon.

    • Laurie

      February 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      This is an older post, so you may already have your answer! The old Kilmuir church ruin was pointed out to me-it is near the Balranald bird preserve on the north west side of North Uist by Tigharry. The new church is on the ring road a bit further south, closer to Paible.

  23. donfad

    March 14, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Names that at first site do not appear to be indigenous to Lewis or Harris but which are septs of the Clan MacLeod include:

    MacRaild, Williamson, Caskie, Malcolm, Crimmond, Norris, Norman and Tolmie.


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