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Chirsty MacDonald was born in 1870, the only daughter of Angus MacDonald and his first wife Rachel MacAskill of 4 Ardslave, Harris. Her mother died when Chirsty was still a baby. Her father re-married and the family made their new home at Quay, Berneray.
Chirsty became a domestic servant and in 1888 she married widower Alexander Paterson of 9 Ruisgarry (Gunhill). Together they had a family of eight children.