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Rachel was the daughter of Kenneth Shaw and Mary MacLeod/MacLennan. She was born in 1896 at her maternal grandmother's home at Quay, becoming a pupil at Berneray School in 1901. Her father, a sailor, based himself both in Glasgow and at Quay. Rachel left the school a year later, following her grandmother's death, becoming a pupil at Obbe School, though it appears that the family then moved to Glasgow.
Rachel married Angus Shaw from 4 Flodabay. Together they had three daughters. It is uncertain where they lived, but he was passed ‘house 4’ Ludag at some stage. It is also believed that they lived in Golspie.