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Archiver > SCT-WIS > 2003-06 > 1055611812

From: "J Blair MacAulay" <>
Subject: Re: [WIS] William BIRNIE - Factor of South Uist
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2003 13:30:24 -0400
References: <>

I acknowledge your request for information on your South Uist forebears.
I have spent the past 25 years researching all persons born NORTH UIST
pre-1871 and have very little information on the genealogy of SOUTH UIST. My
only knowledge in this connection relates to persons originally from North
Uist who moved to South Uist.
As you will be aware, while 100% of the population of North Uist is
Protestant, a majority of the population of South Uist (which includes
Benbecula) are and always have been Roman Catholic. I mention this only as
you indicate that your husband's forebear was Rev. Roderick MacLean (whom I
assume was a Church of Scotland minister and not a Catholic father!). As a
result there were comparatively few Protestants in South Uist and many of
these, including their ministers, originally came from North Uist.
Many are surprised that the two islands - North Uist and South Uist -
now joined by a motor causeway and even in ancient times could be forded at
low tide - would be so different religiously. The reason is that South Uist
and Benbecula were owned by one branch of the MacDonald family - the
MacDonalds of Clanranald - whereas North Uist was owned by the MacDonalds of
Sleat (Skye). At the time of the Reformation in Scotland Clanranald remained
Catholic whereas the Sleat branch of the MacDonald family converted to
Protestantism. The tenants of the two areas adopted the religion of the
their respective landlords.
I did check my records to see if any of the persons mentioned in your
e-mail possibly had North Uist roots and I did find information on a Rev.
Roderick MacDonald (c1810-1900 ) from North Uist who was the (Church of
Scotland) parish minister of South Uist between 1854 and 1900. He married in
1851 Marion MacLean of Grogary, South Uist, whose father, Rev. Roderick
MacLean, he succeeded as minister of South Uist IN 1854.
I am attaching to this e-mail my Family Group Record for Rev. Roderick
MacDonald that contains an extract from the 3 Volume "Clan Donald" by Rev.
A. MacDonald and Rev. A. MacDonald, that was privately published in a
limited edition in 1896. It is the "definitive" history of the MacDonald
family however as there were only a few hundred copies printed it is hard to
find (I am fortunate to have a copy in my extensive personal library). Such
attachment is in Adobe Acrobat format (.PDF) and if you do not have the
Acrobat reader already on your computer you can download it without charge
from the Adobe website. Alternatively, if you provide your mailing address I
can mail a copy of the Family Group Sheet to you.
I repeat again that my area of "expertise" does not include South Uist
(but I do have individual records on more than 16,000 persons born North
Uist before 1871). For more information on Rev. Roderick MacLean I would
suggest that you peruse a copy of the book that contains biographies of all
past ministers of the Church of Scotland (At the moment I cannot remember
the name of the book - but recollect it has a Latin name such as "Carmina
Bill Lawson, is the pre-eminent professional genealogist for the Western
Isles and has published "Croft Histories" for many areas in Harris, Lewis,
North Uist and South Uist. He may have published a "Croft History" for the
area of South Uist from whence your husband's forebears came. You can reach
him at the following address:
Bill Lawson
The Old Schoolhouse
Isle of Harris.
Scotland HS3 3JA

If you are prepared to spend a few £ you could have Bill Lawson provide
a report to you. He has unbelievable records and my experience is that his
charges are extremely reasonable.

Sorry that I cannot be of more assistance.

Blair MacAulay (Toronto).

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: 14 June, 2003 10:06 AM
Subject: [WIS] William BIRNIE - Factor of South Uist

> I am trying to find information about my husband's great-great-grandfather
> William Birnie who was Factor of South Uist in the mid 1800s.
> We know that he married Marjory (May) Calder at Udny, Aberdeenshire in
> and had 3 daughters.
> The transcript of their marriage gives no indication of ages or parents,
> we have therefore hit a brick wall in our research!
> Their daughter May married Charles Maclean of Milton farm, South Uist, who
> was the son of the Rev Roderick Maclean, minister of south Uist 1816-1854.
> I would be grateful for any ideas or help in finding out more details of
> William and May Birnie.
> Jane Macintyre
> Fife
> Scotland
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