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Donald was born in 1830, the son of Norman MacLeod and Ann Shaw of old Borve. His mother died when he was about five years old and his father remarried, moving the family to Quay.
In 1868 Donald married Christina Shaw, with whom he was to have five children. In 1875 they moved into a newly built cottar’s house in Backhill, from which he worked as a fisherman. In 1900 Donald obtained one of the newly allotted crofts in Borve, croft 5.