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Norman was illegitimate. His mother was Catherine Macleod, said to be from Breanish, Uig and his father was Neil Macdonald "Niall Bhearnaraidh Bheag". As was the custom then, the mother was asked what she would like as a gift for the child (there was no question of marriage). She replied that all she wanted was the permission for her son to carry the father's name. This was granted and he became Norman Macdonald. He settled in Gisla and lived there until his death in the 1840s
He was affectionately known as Tormod Laghach because of his loving, pleasant nature.