12688: James Macnaughton

The shepherds who came from the West Coast of Scotland “am b-Oirthir” were Finlaysons, Macraes and Macnaughtons. A rent roll of 1814 (GD284/19) show the Macnaughtons located at Cleit a Thog, which is between Scaliscro and Ceann a Loch.

One of the sons, James, became romantically involved with Margaret, the daughter of Norman Macdonald “Tormod Ladhach” from Gisla which is situated just across the bay of Little Loch Roag. During their courting there is a story of how one winter, after a particularly severe frost, James was able to cross the loch on foot pushing a stick in front of him to check the thickness of the ice — quite a shortcut compared to walking round the bay past Ceann a Loch. Her family did not encourage this attachment as all shepherds and incomers were viewed with suspicion after the Clearances. Her brother is said to have warned her:

“Cha dean e feu sgeap dhut a bhitheas agad ri faoighe” (He won’t even make you a basket you’ll have for begging)

They did marry however and moved to a bothy on Cnoc Dhubh in Ceann Thulabhig (which belonged to Linshader) where James was shepherding. One day in 1831 the owner’s wife was passing the bothy in her gig when she noticed that Margaret was in an advanced stage of labour. She rushed home and bade the servants bring Margaret to the house whilst she made preparations for the birth. Margaret’s son John “an Tailear” was born there. This was her second child – a daughter Mary was born in 1829. They moved to Linshader between 1833-34 and lived in one end of the farmhouse barn, where their third child Ann was born.

James was given the task of shepherding in Kirkibost and they lived in a cottage on what is now No 20. He had the reputation of being an extremely lazy man, incapable of doing anything but mind his sheep, whilst Margaret did all the croft work. Indeed it is said that while Margaret would turn the fields with the spade he would lie in a ditch beside the “feannag” watching her. Margaret would then trudge home in the evening and prepare the meal for the family whilst he would stretch out on the “being” and mutter:
“oh ‘se an corp a nochd a Mhairead” (oh! my body tonight Margaret).

They had ten children and by 1881 James, Margaret and a daughter Christy had moved to No 5 Crulivig to be near their other daughter Mary and her family.


Record Type:
Date Of Birth:
Date of Death:
Brothers Keeper Reference:
CEBL 801
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Related Media

Both at Cnoc Dubh

Both at Cnoc Dubh