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Roderick was born in about 1820, the son of Donald MacLeod and Catherine MacLeod of old Borve, and was still unmarried and living with them in 1851. However, by 1854 the family had been removed to Quay. Roderick was one of those who took advantage of the opportunity to emigrate to Australia on the Royal Albert, with his wife Jane (possibly Emma) and son Donald. The voyage was organised by the Highlands and Islands Emigration Society.
His second wife was Julia MacLeod, who had also emigrated to Australia from Borve.