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Kenneth came from the Carloway or Tolsta Chaolais area. His parents died when he was very young; his mother met her death by falling from a high rock and his father had died earlier. He was brought up by his mother's sister Marion who was married to Donald Mackenzie from the Carloway area. Before the end of the 18th Century, Marion's husband had died and she moved to Calbost with Kenneth and her son Norman (Tormod Buidh), where there were better opportunities for work. Tradition relates that another brother of Norman came to Calbost with them (name unknown) and that he subsequently returned to Carloway.
Kenneth married Anna Macleod (Anna an Dhomhnuill) from Tolsta Chaolais and they had the first four of their family of eight before they acquired a permanent croft of their own under the crofting system of tenure about 1818.
Angus Macleod, Calbost, related the following:
In 1804 Seaforth Mackenzie's recruiting Agents came to Calbost and Kenneth Macleod was forcibly conscripted into the Army at the age of 28 years. At that time Seaforth was currying favour with the establishment by offering to raise the 2nd Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders among the men on his Estates in order to help the British in their efforts to protect their lines of communications with the Indian Sub-Continent. In that way Kenneth found himself fighting the Turkish Army in Egypt led by Muhammed Ali in the Campaign known locally as Cogadh na Tuirc.
It was Kenneth's cousin, Norman "Buidh" Mackenzie that the Mackenzie press gang approached first but Norman protested and pleaded family responsibilities and pointed to Kenneth as an unmarried orphan. Accordingly Kenneth was taken into the Army and that event is still remembered in the traditions of Calbost by the Gaelic saying, Tormod-Buidhe-na-car, cuir e mo S'heanair do'n Airm. (Crafty Norman he sent my grandfather to the Army).
It could hardly be said that a young Gaelic-speaking orphan crofter from Lewis in 1804 knew what he was defending at the risk of his very life in distant overseas lands and we may be sure he was not told he was expected to subjugate poor deprived people like himself in order to create and protect the Great British Empire. Kenneth lost his sight in Egypt with opthalmia and he was an Army pensioner for the rest of his life after Cogadh na Tuirc.
See also Angus Macleod's full account of Kenneth's career.