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John (born 1861) was the son of Malcolm Macdonald and Christina Maclennan; the family were cottars at 49 North Tolsta, which was John's maternal grandmother's croft.
In 1863 his maternal grandmother lost 49 North Tolsta and settled as a cottar on his uncle's croft. John's parents moved the family to 5 Skigersta, which was his paternal grandparents croft.
John married Jane Morrison, of 43 Leurbost, and the couple settled at 8 New Holdings, Leurbost.