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John was born in 1853, the youngest child of Neil MacAskill and Ann MacKillop of Borve, his father dying around the time of his birth. The family were removed from Borve, moving to 'house 1' Rubha Mor in Ruisgarry.
John became a fisherman, in 1879 marrying Marion MacMillan, with whom he was to have eight children. They lived for a while with John's brother Donald at 'house 2' Rubha Mor, later moving to Quay. John drowned in 1899 at Gniopa, together with his eldest son Alexander, brother Iain Bàn and nephew Neil.