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Malcolm was born in 1836, the son of Norman MacLeod and Ann Shaw of old Borve. His mother died when he was a baby and his father remarried, moving the family to Quay.
Malcolm became a labourer, marrying Mary MacLean in 1859. They made their home at Lamerick, where Malcolm earned a living as a fisherman. Together he and Mary were to have six children before her death in 1874. Ten years later he married his second wife, Mary Ferguson, with whom he was to have a further four children.
He was totally blind later in life, and liked to sit in a sunny spot outside the house.