68734: Malcolm MacLeod

Malcolm, born about 1841, was the son of Roderick MacLeod and Christina MacLeod of old Borve, then 21/22 Ruisgarry (Ben Leva). In 1871 he married Mary Munro, and they became cottars on his parents’ croft. Together they were to have eleven children. As well as farming and fishing, he was a missionary, and often preached when Rev Murdo Morrison was on Boreray.

Well respected by cottars and crofters alike, Malcolm was elected by the cottars and crofters of Berneray to give evidence on their behalf to the Napier Commission at Obbe in 1883. On being asked why he had written his evidence in Gaelic, he replied ‘I felt more sure, in writing Gaelic that I would not put down anything I could not stand to.’

His plea on behalf of the islanders began: ‘We consider it a great privilege to have the opportunity of pleading for our rights before the noblemen and gentlemen who have undertaken to inquire into the condition of the poor in the Highlands and Western Isles. But every history has its preface, and my preface is that I would not feel at liberty to say anything unless I disregarded the fear of those in authority over us. For if I tell the truth, I shall risk their displeasure; and if I do not, my conscience will condemn me and the people will stoop me.’

A fuller version of his evidence can be found here.

Eventually, in 1900, the islanders achieved their wish, and Malcolm was one of those granted a croft in Borve – croft 9. He crofted there until his death at the age of 84 years.


Record Type:
Date Of Birth:
Date of Death:
8 May 1925
Brothers Keeper Reference:
CEBH 589
Fisherman; Farmer; Missionary
Record Maintained by: