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Rachel was born in 1835, the youngest daughter of John Paterson and his first wife Janet Ross, who died when Rachel was a baby. Her father subsequently remarried. Rachel was brought up in old Ruisgarry, then 1 Ruisgarry (Sandhill) which her father obtained in 1850.
She lived briefly in Baile before marrying Angus MacLean, with whom she was to have seven children. They made their home at Quay. Son Angus's children Katie and Rachel were staying at Quay with Rachel and her husband at the time of the 1911 census.
Her husband died in 1921, and their two youngest sons, John and Angus, were to drown when their boat overturned in March 1929. Rachel died a year later.