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Catherine, known as Kate, born in 1866, was the eldest child of John Shaw and Christina Munro, cottars on 13 Ruisgarry (Sunhill). Her father died of consumption when Kate was just 9 years old, and the family moved to Backhill, where they lived as cottars. She became a domestic servant and married William MacMillan of Ferry in 1890. They were to have six children together. In 1900 he was allotted 22 Borve (Sandpoint).
In 1911 her nephew John Shaw, whose mother had died shortly after childbirth, was living with the family.