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Alexander Paterson was born in 1855, the son of John Paterson and Christina Munro of Taigh a' Chiobair, Borve. For a while he appears to have worked as a cattleherd at Newton Farm. By 1881 he had returned to Berneray to live in a newly built house at Pol an Oir.
Alexander worked as a carpenter, notably on the Golden Eagle. In 1890 he married Ann MacLeod of Sandhill, with whom he was to have five children. In 1900 he was lotted a new croft at 15 Borve, to which the family moved.