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John Shaw was one of twins born in 1909 to Malcolm Shaw and Isabella MacAskill of ‘house 30’ Backhill. Their mother passed away a few weeks later and the children were cared for by relatives. John lived with his aunt Catherine MacMillan (née Shaw) at 22 Borve (Sandpoint). He was a pupil at Berneray School from 1916, later working as a farm labourer. In due course he married Catherine MacDonald of 24 Borve, with whom he was to have two children. The family lived at Ferry.
Later John became a missionary for the Church of Scotland, living at Grosebay and the New Mission House, Malaclete.