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Alexander MacKillop was born at croft 10 Ruisgarry (Gunhill) in 1915, the son of Donald John MacKillop and Sybla MacAskill, who were cottars on 5 Ruisgarry (Beasdaire). His mother died when he was a child, and his aunt Mrs Marion MacLeod (née MacAskill) of Gunhill, helped to care for him, although his father remained his legal guardian.
Alexander started attending Berneray School in 1921, leaving for North Uist in 1924. He was re-admitted to the school in 1925, from Kyles Flodday (his step-mother Joan MacLellan's home). Alexander married Joan MacRae from 7 Grimshader, and the couple settled in Gourock.