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Rev John Macrae
Rev John Macrae
The Rev John Macrae, minister of Lochs from 1857-1866 was a physical and spiritual giant and was a household name in Scotland in the latter half of the 19th Century, having ministered at Cross (1833), Knockbain (1839), Greenock (1849), Lochs (1857) and Carloway (1866) before retiring to Stornoway in 1871 where he preached regularly after his retirement.
Lochs (Crossbost) at that time was a congregation of around 5000 people. There were no Free Church buildings at Kinloch or Pairc in these days and with roads being few and far between in what was a large and widely dispersed area. It was with this in mind that the people of Snizort in Skye presented Macrath Mor with a yacht, 'The Wild Duck', which was sailed to Lewis by his good friend the Rev Roderick Macleod of Snizort.
Because of its central location, Gob Chabharstaigh, a sheltered spot on the hillside just above the shore in Caverstay, became a meeting place and whenever Rev Macrae was to preach there, people came by boat from Kinloch, North Lochs, Cromore and Marvig, while those from Gravir, Lemreway and Orinsay came on foot. It is very likely that the 'tent' or portable pulpit, at present in the museum at Gravir was used there and there is part of a wall at number 3 in an area known as 'Tobair na Tent'.
Macrath Mór's wife was Penelope Mackenzie, daughter of Capt Thomas Mackenzie, tacksman at Bayble. She is buried in Eilean Chalum Chille where the inscription on her gravestone is still legible but Macrae himself was buried in Greenock.