Coigach Lines

Tenant Genealogy of Coigach Crofts, Scotland, 1800-1900

Archive for July, 2009

(SDD 18) Mackenzie 238, 244

Posted by alibaster on July 30, 2009

SDD 18


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About Macleans of Croft 216 and 191 and a half.

Posted by alibaster on July 28, 2009

Relevant diagram can be viewed here:

The Macleans of croft 216 (Altandu) and 191 and a half (Polbain) as recalled by Captain John Maclean, Harbour Master, Inverness:

The Coigach progenitor of this family was Murdo Maclean, croft 216, who worked a mill on the burn flowing out of Loch Camus an Feidh between Altandu and Old Dornie farm, and who married Annabel, also Maclean, from Lewis. Murdo’s father, Iain Og Maclean, also belonged to the “Long Island”, the Outer Hebrides. These family memories were recorded by Captain John for his son Will in some seventy pages, summarised here.

Captain John was the great-grandson of Murdo the Miller and Annabel Maclean by their eldest son Kenneth, a fisherman of Coigach who would range as far as the east coast fishings in summer with his sailing boat and family crew. Kenneth was born in 1819 and died of pneumonia at age 68, soon after returning from Wick through the Pentland Firth and around Cape Wrath. Their 40? foot half decked sailing boat was caught in a gale during which for thirty-six hours he was tied at the tiller so he could ride the waves without being washed overboard. His crew would have been baling continuously and they survived to reach home but Kenneth died from the effects.

Captain John remembered three of his grandfather Kenneth’s brothers, Murdo, Donald and Duncan, who all crofted in Coigach, married and raised families; and another brother John who was a shepherd at Old Dornie and Achnahaird farms; and an unmarried sister Catriona. As he wrote, in 19 he knew of only one surviving Maclean descendant still living in Coigach, as the grand-children of these families left crofting before and after the first World War and settled overseas or elsewhere in Britain.

Captain John’s father James had no formal schooling as a boy. He herded cattle for his father’s cousin Duncan Maclean, crofter (No.225) at Camuscoille west of Achnahaird. He attended winter night-classes held by Simon Campbell of Dornie (croft 188) for three years, for which his school fees were a dozen eggs from time to time. Then he went to Nairn on the east coast as apprentice to shoemaker Angus Shaw, an older cousin from croft 191 (Polbain). He later returned to crofting and shoemaking at his mother’s home (croft 191.5) , and married and raised his family there.

Captain John had five Maclean uncles, brought up with his father James on the croft of his grandmother “Grannie Shaw”. John and Calum, the first and third sons of grandfather Kenneth, were drowned together as young men, sailing home after ferrying their cousin Angus Shaw, Nairn shoemaker to Ullapool. A barrel of tar they were carrying home may have proved unstable in their small sailing boat in rough weather they met late in the day, and led to their capsizing. Second son Roderick stayed in Polbain, married but had no children? Fifth son Murdo was apprenticed to an Ullapool tailor, later worked in Glasgow and finally started a tailoring business and a family of Macleans in Wigtownshire. Youngest brother Alex became a tailor’s cutter, emigrated west and started business in Reno, Nevada, lost everything once in an earthquake and again in a flood, recovered and became an alderman.

Captain John’s brothers and sisters no doubt deserve another page but they belong to the 20th century so are outside the scope of this blog.

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(SDD17,18) Mackenzie 227 (231, 237, 186, 238, 244)

Posted by alibaster on July 19, 2009

SDD 17

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(SDD 16) The Macdonalds of Reiff, Croft 235, Ross 240 (and 241)

Posted by alibaster on July 9, 2009

Progenitor John Macdonald, aged 89 in the 1851 census, may have belonged to one of the Strathcanaird Macdonald families. He and his wife Catherine “ketty” Macleod are the great-great-great-grandparents of Donald Macdonald-Ross of Thorold, Ontario, a specialist in Coigach genealogy (see link).

Their son Donald, aged 35 in the 1841 census, and his second wife Elizabeth Macleod of croft 234 (Reiff) brought up a family of seven in croft 235. In 1870 their daughter Caorstigh, the eldest of three Macdonald sisters, followed her eldest step-sister Catherine by marrying a man from Easter Ross. Andrew Ross took his West-Coast wife to Lower Arboll where his family had farmed since before 1820 at least. Their children included Donald Macdonald-Ross’s grandfather Ross Macdonald-Ross, who revisited his Coigach cousins each summer and maintained contact with them through the early 20th century.

Donald the genealogist has a “bunch of data” about his ancestors’ history in Coigach. I beg his pardon if the above contains any errors.


SDD 16

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(SDD13) Macleod 255,256, (250, 207,253)

Posted by alibaster on July 9, 2009

SDD 13

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