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Full text of "Notes of the family history & connections of Mr. John MacDonald of Little Bernera, Island of Lewis, Scotland"

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of the 

Dr, R, Ross 
Jime 1896 


Imprimerie Cooperative, Rue de 1' Egll 


Port Louis, 
Mauritius, April, 1902. 

I wrote to my brother^in-Law, Dr. Ross, Barvas, 
Lewis, in the year 1896, asking him to kindly send 
me notes of the Family History of both my late 
dear Father and Mother as far as could be traced, 
and the following notes were sent to me which I 
am sure will be most interesting to dear Friends and 
relatives of our Family. 

MuRDO Stewart MacDonald, 

Surveyor to Lloyd's Register, 


John McDonald, Tacksman, Bernera, Island of 
Lewis, Scotland. Born at little Bernera House May 
1804, died at Bernera Sound House Sept. 1880. 

John was the eldest son of Donald McDonald, 
Tacksman, who was born at Drovernish, in the year 
1765, and died at little Bernera, where John was 
born, in his 66th year, in 1831. 

John's grandfather was Neil McDonald, who 
came from Lochs, settled at Drovernish, and married 
Catherine (Catriona), daughter of Donald McAulay, 
and sister of George McAulay, Tacksman, Linshader, 
whose grandfather was Angus McAulay, one of the 
sons of Domhul Cam MacDhoughail of Uig. In this 
connection John was the seventh in descent from the 
famous Donald Cam. 

Note that this Donald Cam is the first McAulay 
who figures in the ancient history of Lewis ; and 
that primarily in connection with his capture along 
with Domhul Dubh in 1597, and his daring and 
marvellous escape from his captors. Domhul Cam 
was also one of the invincible band who held out so 
bravely along with Neil McLeod in the island of 
Berrisay, and surrendered only when their wives and 
children were exposed on a sunk rock at ebb tide in 
their presence by their enemies. For many other 

interesting traditions concerning Donald Cam and 
his grandfather John Roy, see Vol. XIV. pp. 363-431, 
Scottish Society of Antiquaries. 

Note further that the illustrious Lord McAulay 
was another of the descendants of this Donald Cam. 
Thus one of Donald's sons was the Rev. Aulay Mc 
Aulay, minister, first of Tiree and Coll, and after- 
wards of Harris, about the beginning of the 18th 
century. This Aulay's eldest son, John, born in 1720, 
was the Rev. John McAulay, the oft translated 
minister first of Barra, next of S. Uist, then of 
Lismore, afterwards of Inveraray, and lastly of Car- 
dross. One of John's sons was Zachary McAulay 
(Gaelic, Sgaire), Governor of Sierra Leone, and one 
of Wilberforce's doughtiest co-workers in securing the 
emanicaption of slaves and the suppression of slavery. 
Zachary's eldest son was the great Thomas Babing- 
ton (Gaelic : Baaby) McAulay, born at Rothley 
Temple, England, 25th Oct. 18C0 ; and so we see 
that this son, who became Lord McAulay, and whose 
writings immortalire him, was the fifth in descent 
from Donald Cam of Uig in poor old Lewis. 

Note also that Mr. McDonald's grandmother 
was sister of George McAulay, Farmer, Linshader, 
whose son Donald was father of Dr. McAulay — an 
Doctor Ruadh — seventh in descent from Donald 
Cam, of Lillias, wife of the Rev. Robert Fa^layson, 
once of Lochs, and afterwards of Helmsdale ; and of 
Captain McAulay, of Stornoway, father of William 
and Kenneth, once of India; and of Mr William 
Ross and Kenneth Smith^of Stornoway — thus showing 
the relationship between Mr. McDonald and these 
old Stornoway families. 

Note further, in connection with the blood 

relationship between ourselves, that Mr. McDonald's 
great grandmother was the wife of Allan Ross 
(Ruadh) of Crobeg^ Lochs — my great grandfather ; 
so that your father (Mr. McD.) and I were third 
cousins, and you and my children are fourth cousins, 
besides being in the relationship of uncle and nephew 
and niece. 

The relationship between our families and that 
of the Maclvers of Gress, represented now by 
Evander Mclver of Scourie and a few others, is as 
follows : — The forementioned Mrs. Allan Ross of 
Crobcg was sister of Evander Mclver, father of 
Lewis Mclver of Gress, fatlier of Evander Mclver of 
Scourie, and grandfather of Lewis Mclver, Esquire, 
M.P. for West Edinburgh, who is my third and your 
fourth cousin, and who was recently knighted and is 
now known as Sir Lewis Mclver, M.P., Torquay, 
England, married to a wealthy heiress of Jewish 
extraction, one of the Montefiore family. 

Mr. McDonald's father was married twice. His 
first wife was his own first cousin, Isabella Mc- 
Aulay, sister of Donald McAulay of Linshader ; by 
whom he had only two daughters, Ann and Barbara. 
Ann married a man of the name of Omond, a 
Norwegian, with whom she lived first at Gravesend, 
and latterly at St. Margaret's Hope, Orkney. Bar- 
bara married her first cousin, Alister McKenzie Mac 
Iain Mhic Ailein Ruaidh (the Allan Ross of Crobeg 
above mentioned), by whom she had nine or ten of a 
family. The family emigrated to Picton, Canada ; 
and their descendants are still there, and in comfort- 
able circumstances. 

His second wife was Ann, daughter of Donald 
McLennan, Tacksman, Reef, son of Duncan Mc 


^^U-e-^-tM-^'T . 

LeiUidii, Tacksmdii, Reei, son oi' Murdo ivlcLciuiau 
of little Bernera. By this wife he had five sons and 
five daughters. The sons were John, Neil, Donald, 
George and Duncan ; and the daughters Margaret, 
Kate, Isabella, Annabella and Mary. The two 
youngest sons, George and Duncan, left home when 
they were young men, and there have been no accounts 
of them for a long time. You will be able yourself 
to fdl up a short biographical sketch of the rest of 
your uncles and aunts by the father's side. 

Reverting to the history of the McLennans, who 
came to be united with the family by marriage as 
above, we find that Murdo McLennan of Little 
Bernera was one of three brothers among whom 
little Bernera and Croy were divided. They were the 
sons of John McLennan, Mac Rhuaividh Mhic a 
Chleivich, who lived at Kintail, and who, on account 
of his great sagacity and wisdom, was held in high 
esteem by the then Proprietrix of Kintail who lived 
in Brahan Csstle. This led to a feeling of jealousy 
on the Proprietor's part ; and the result was that 
finally he got McLennan banished to Kirkabost in 
Bernera, Lewis, allowing him Tolsta for summer 
grazing ; and giving Little Bernera and Croir to his 
three sons. The two at Bernera did not get on well 
together ; and the one at Croir was prevailed upon 
by his wife to migrate to Ness, her native place. On 
his way there with a boat load of Barley he was 
driven off the coast in a storm, and supposed to be 
lost. But long afterwards he was met at Gottenberg 
by a Stornoway ship's captain, by whom he sent a 
stockingful of gold coins to his brother Murdo at 
Little Bernera. Of this Murdo, Mr McDonald's 
great grandfather, all that need be said further is 
that his sister was great grandmother of Roderick 
Nicolson, ship owner, Stornoway, whose son founded 

and partially endowed the Nicolson institution at 
Stornoway — an Institution which promises to confer 
excellent educational benefits on the young of the 

The following anecdotes are related of the 
Kintail Proprietrix and her sagacious councellor 
John McLennan. — One of her ladyship's fancies 
was to have a fresh cow's tongue for her dinner each 
day. McLennan thought this extravagent ; and, 
by way of precenting her with an object lesson 
demonstrating the enormity of her extravagance, he 
led a drove of three hundred and sixty-five cows 
from Kintail on one of his visits and posted them on 
the lawn to the front of the castle. On her ladyship 
expressing her surprise at seeing such a large herd 
of cattle in one place, McLennan pointed out to her 
that that was the exact number which was slaughter^ 
ed yearly to supply her table with its daily fresh 
tongue ! It is not related what effect this reproof 
had on her ladyship's taste. On another occasion 
John was led into one of her apartments in which 
there was a fire keptgoing with cinnamon bark. In 
response to her ladyship's praises of the sweet 
perfume from the fire, John replied that so pene- 
trating was it that it reached them all the way to 
cro-nan loagh in Kintail — meaning of course that 
her extravagance was paid for by her poor distant 
tenants ! 

Mrs John McDonald (Catherine Stewart) was 
daughter of Kenneth Stewart, Tacksman, Hacklete, 
Bernera, who emigrated from Skye, along with his 
relative, the Rev. Hugh McLeod, minister of Uig. 
Mrs McDonald's brothers, were John, Murdo, 
Roderick and Donald ; and her sisters Janet, Ann, 
Barabella and Peggy. All the brothers emigrated to 


America, except John who went to Auckland, New 
Zealand. Ann and Barabella also went to America - 
to Poosilir in Canada West. All were well and in 
comfortable circumstances when heard from last, 
some years ago. 

Mrs McDonald's mother was Mary, daughter of 
Farquhar Smith, Tacksman, Earshader, son of 
Duncan Smith, son of Farquhar Smith who came 
from Lochs, and wno was married to Barabelle 
daughter of the John McLennan from Kintail 
referred to above. Thus Mr and Mrs McDonald 
were distinctly related to one another through the 
McLennan grafting. Besides, Farquhar Smith, who 
came from Lochs, was nearly related to my mother's 
family, the Valtos McLeods ; and accordingly I was 
this way distantly related to Mrs McDonald.' 

Barabelle McLennan had been married before 
she married Farquhar, and had one daughter by 
that marriage. This daughter was the grandmother 
of Murdo McAulay, game-keeper, Fin-Castle, Harris. 

Murdo McLeod, Mac Iain Mhic Mhurchaidh, 
Merchant, Stornoway, who built and occupied Num- 
ber 33, Kenneth Street, Stornoway — the house I once 
owned and occupied and in which Annabella was 
born — and who owned much other property in the 
place, was Mrs McDonald's maternal great grand 
uncle. He had two sons, Norman and Donald, and 
one daughter — all of whom married and subsequently 
left the place. 

R. Ross.