8483: The Smiths of Keose and Cleascro

Letter from Mrs Christina Thompson (nee Smith), Schoolhouse, Garrabost to William Matheson, dated 25 February 1950

My grandfather was Alexander Smith (Cleascro) married to Margaret Maclennan, Achmore. My great-grandfather [Donald] was, I think, at Park, Eishken or Stiemreway, before it was broken up for the deer forest. His family were Donald, Malcolm, John, Alexander and Marion (I think). My great-grandfather and great-grandmother died young and relatives took the family, but I’m sure he was in Laxay in a croft before his death.

Anyway, (1) Malcolm settled in Gravir, having a large family – Donald, Alex, Maggie, Bella or Bellann, Annabella.

(2) John settled in Luerbost – family Donald, Neil, John, Isabella (Neil being the Rev. Donald Smith’s father).

(3) Alexander, my grandfather was at Valtos Farm, Lochs till he married a cousin, Margaret Maclennan, Achmore. He stayed on her croft until 1865, when he came to Cleascro and got the large holding rent free for looking after Sir James Mathesons tree plantation (Buaile Beinn nan Gobhar) near Cleascro.

(4) Donald was a tailor in Stornoway and married a lady from Newton (a daughter of William Mackenzie (Uilleam Mac Eachainn), Shipmaster in Stornoway – WM) an aunt of Rev. R Morrison and of Roddy Smith, ex-Provost. There was a daughter Isabella. I’m not sure of her line.

(5) Marion, the daughter was in Crossbost and was a Mrs. Macdonald.

My grandmother was a daughter of Donald Maclennan in Achmore at the time. Her brothers were Angus and William and a sister Isabella.

From Margaret Maclennan and Alex Smith my grandparents were Donald, Angus (My father) (married Addie Macdonald, Keose – nighean Iain Mhic Ruaraidh mhic Aonghais Bhain – WM), Murdo, Neil, William, Isabella, Alasdair Ruadh, Alex, Malcolm.

I’ve always heard that my grandmothers people came from Uig and also my grandfathers – they were cousins. My grandmother, I think, would be a Nicolson, I know there were and are Nicolsons related to us…..

…I had a run over to Laxay to see if a friend there could help me…he showed me the ruins of my great-grandfathers house in Laxay – the man who died and his wife and left a family to be brought up here and there by relatives. My grandfather Alex was taken to the Ground-Officers house at Valtos Balallan and stayed there until he married or near it. This ground officer was Alasdair Mac Eachainn (Alex Macleod)

My grandfather was Alasdair Dhomhnuill ic Chalum. Domhnull Mac Chalum’s wife was Isabella, but I did not discover her surname. My grandfather and grandmother were I think first cousins and there were Nicolsons in her family. I had always heard that an ancestor (Smith) owned 1/3 of Laxay. The Earshader Smiths were definitely our Smiths. My father often spoke of Seonaidh Phadruig and I think the Farquhar and Peter came from his mothers side – Ness(?) wasn’t it?

There is some discrepancy between the detail given here, other oral tradition from Pairc, and the records; research is underway. It seems Marion may be Margaret, who married Alexander Macinnes and settled at 5 Crossbost. Isabella, or Annabella, wife of Donald Smith, was a Nicolson (and that may be the link between Alexander Smith and his wife Peggy Maclennan, whose mother was also a Nicolson.)

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