Fàilte! (Welcome!)

Fàilte! (Welcome!)
This blog is the result of my ongoing research into the people, places and events that have shaped the Western Isles of Scotland and, in particular, the 'Siamese-twins' of Harris and Lewis.
My interest stems from the fact that my Grandfather was a Stornowegian and, until about four years ago, that was the sum total of my knowledge, both of him and of the land of his birth.
I cannot guarantee the accuracy of everything that I have written (not least because parts are, perhaps, pioneering) but I have done my best to check for any errors.
My family mainly lived along the shore of the Sound of Harris, from An-t-Ob and Srannda to Roghadal, but one family 'moved' to Direcleit in the Baighs...

©Copyright 2011 Peter Kerr All rights reserved

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Lighthouse Keepers of Harris

Eilean Glas first shone a light in 1789 but the present tower was constructed in 1824 and modified further in 1907.

A full description from the Northern Lighthouse Board can be found here:

Here are the keepers and their assistants from the 1851-1901 censuses.

I have included the birthplaces of children as an indication of the roving nature of the role.

Alexander Campbell, 57, Principal Light Keeper, Scalpay, b. Harris
Wife, 48, b. Inverness 4 Children (14-29) b. Harris

Chas Black, 27, Edinburgh, Assistant Light Keeper, Scalpay, b. Edinburgh
Wife, 30, b. England 3 Children (1-7) b. Aberdeenshire, Barra, and Barra.
Prudence Melvin, 56, Mother-in-Law, b. British subject, France

John Macdonald, 33, Occasional Light Keeper, Kyles Scalpay, b. Harris
Wife, 28, b. Harris 4 Children (3 weeks-7yrs) b. Harris

1852 – Revolving Lens System Installed

Ewan Campbell, 28, Light Keeper, Scalpay Island, b. Tobermory, Argyll
Wife, 30, b. Tiree, Argyll 2 Children, (?-2), b. Tiree, Argyll and Harris

David Ross, 44, Principal Light Keeper, Light House Buildings, Island of Scalpay, b. Lasswade, Midlothian
Wife, 44, b. Leith 5 Children (5-13), b. Edinburgh, Larduit, Ross-shire, and Caithness-shire

Angus Macleod, 25, Lightkeeper (Assistant), b. Durness, Sutherlandshire
Wife, 28, b. Domark(?), Dumfriess-shire, Son, 1, b. Jura, Argyll

Norman Cunningham, 28, (Amsturd St?) Keeper, Raasay,Inverness,  b. Harris
Wife, 26, b. Harris 3 Children (9 months-3 yrs), b. Ardnamurchan, Argyll; Portree, Inverness

1881 - Not listed

Norman Cunningham, 42, Light Keeper (Out of Employ), Cottage, S Harris, b. Harris
Wife, 39, b. Harris 6 Children (8 months – 13 yrs), b. Ardnamurchan, Argyll; Dunrossness, Shetland; North Ronaldsay, Orkney; and Harris

Robert Murray, 44, Lighthouse Keeper, Isle of Glass Light House, b. Kirkmaiden, Wigtown-shire
Wife, 41, b. Dunnet, Caithness, Daughter, 4, b. Arbroath

Donald Douglas, 31, Assistant Lighthouse Keeper, b. Uist
Wife, 27, b. Glay(?), Argyll, Children (4, 2, 1) b. Harris

Murdo Morrison, 60, Crofter Retired Light Keeper, No 1 Kyles Scalpay, b. Harris
Wife, 26(?), b. Harris 5 Children (1-11), b.

Hugh Mackinnon, 33, Lighthouse Keeper, No 123 Lighthouse, N Harris, b. Glasgow
Kate Morrison, 32, General Servant Domestic, b. Harris

James McGuffie, 52, Driver Keeper Now Lighthouse Worker, No 124 Lighthouse, N Harris, b. Kirkmaiden, Wigtownshire
Wife, 52, b. Helmsdale, Inverness, Daughter, 26, b. Thurso, Inverness(?)

Duncan Mackay, 54, Crofter, No 125 Lighthouse, N Harris, b. Harris
Wife, 49, b. Harris, 6 Children (7-19), b. Harris

John Macsween, 62, Crofter, No 126 Lighthouse, N Harris, b. Harris
Wife, 58, b. Harris, 5 Children (9-23), b. Harris

Norman Cunningham, 63, Retired Lighthouse Keeper, Manish, b. Harris
Wife, 59, b. Harris

I find the addresses in the 1901 census particularly interesting, 'Nos 123-126 Lighthouse' presumably referring to the numbering system for the buildings associated with the light tower.

Norman Cunningham clearly worked in turn at Ardnamurchan, Raasay, Dunrossness and North Ronaldsay but, somewhat ironically, was unemployed on Harris in 1881 at which time no keeper of the light at Eilean Glas is to be found in these records.

There are other Harris-born lighthouse keepers spread around Scotland but I have restricted this piece to those who were resident on Harris at the time of the censuses, with the one exception of Norman Cunningham in 1871 which I considered to be an illuminating addition.

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