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Settlement of Kershader
Settlement of Kershader
from the notes of Angus "Ease" Macleod, Calbost and Marybank.
Donald MacNeil, "MacNeill nan Eilean" who lived on St Colms' Isle, held the tack for the whole of Park in the 1770's. He sub-let portions of his land to sub-tacksmen. The sub-tacksmen would then let portions of land to crofters. In the year 1773, Donald MacRitchie was the tacksman at Kershader. Known as Domhnall Mac Ciorstaidh he paid an annual rental of 4.00 sterling to Donald MacNeil of Ardmeanach, Tacksman. There are no tenants listed in 1773 although tradition tells us that "Nighean Amhlaidh" and "Fearchar" lived at this time or even earlier. Four tenants are recorded in Kershader in 1775, John MacKenzie, Murdo MacKenzie, Neil Babies and Thomas Babies.
MacNeill nan Eilein was obviously a man of substance. His son, Malcolm was the Captain of an ocean going vessel, "Brig MhicNeill nan Eilean" which was built at "Leas Mhurchaidh Mhic Mhurchaidh" in Cuirishall, near the "Cabag" in Gravir. Murdo Smith, known as Murchadh Mhic Mhurchaidh, held the tenancy of Cuirishall and was a boat builder on a grand scale. He had a son, Alexander who also became a boatbuilder. It was a son of Alexander, Murdo, who moved to Leurbost to found the Smith dynasty in that area.
In 1780, Alex MacIver shipowner and merchant at Stornoway became the new tacksman at Kershader.
There are five kelpworkers recorded at Kershader in 1810. They were, Norman Roy, Angus MacLeod, Norman MacLeod, Malcolm MacLeod and Murdo MacDonald. The 1814 list of kelpworkers only notes two remaining from 1810, Angus MacLeod and Murdo MacDonald but adds the names of Murdo MacKenzie, Murdo MacLeod, Malcolm MacDonald, and another Murdo MacDonald.
In 1824, ten tenants are listed as follows; Donald MacLeod, Kenneth MacDonald, Murdoch MacDonald Jnr., Murdoch MacDonald Snr., Murdoch MacRitchie, Malcolm MacLeod, Murdoch MacLeod, Malcolm Morrison, Duncan MacLeod and the widow of Angus MacLeod. There was a suggestion of clearance in the air, however for the 1824 rental list is marked, "Numbers 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 are willing to go to Tongue and Malcolm Morrison is marked, willing to go to Gravir".
By the beginning of the 19th century the lands at Kershader appear to have been held by two sub-tacksmen who later became crofters in the village when the old run-rig system was abolished and the present method of crofting tenure came into use around 1818. The land to the east end of Kershader was held by Calum MacLeod, known as "Calum Rudha 'n Fhithich". Rudha 'n Fhithich is the hill close to the old school in the village which was recently sliced up to make make way for the new highway, an unforgiving blight on the landscape, the inevitable result of giving engineering and economic principles priority over environmental considerations. This ugly gash is the most visible aspect of Kershader when viewed from over the loch and the surrounding hills.
To the west of the village Angus MacLeod "Aonghas Ruadh" held the tack which became known as the "Gearraidh Ghorm". This is likely to have been the same Angus MacLeod who appears on the kelpworkers list in 1810 and 1814. Local tradition tells us that Calum and Aonghas Ruadh were related to each other and divided up their sub-tacks into small holdings.
With the introduction of the new crofting system and the allocation of individual crofts around 1818, Calum Rudh 'n Fhithich took over the tenancy of the land which is now number 2, Kershader. Aonghas Ruadh's family occupied the land at number 10, Kershader. The connection between the old ruling families was maintained when Calum's daughter, Mary born in 1836, married Calum MacLeod the son of Donnachadh Aonghais Ruaidh.