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John, or 'an Domhnallach as he was known locally, was the son of Donald and his second wife Ann Maclennan. His father Donald was the tacksman in Little Bernera at one time and he became the tacksman of Croir (or Sound of Bernera farm in the Rent Roll). He settled with his family in Tigh a Chaolais on what is today 1 Croir.
John was the informant on placenames, recorded by the Ordnance Survey, in 1852 in and around Bernera and also the Flannan Isles, and he also had the lease on these islands in the mid 1850s.