Family history

John was the son of fisherman Donald Macaulay of Islivig and domestic servant Margaret Macaulay who were married at Miavaig on 4 April 1878. Both were aged 26 at the time. It is worth pointing out that in the Gaelic community, the name Margaret is sometimes converted to Peggy. They continued to live in Islivig after their marriage. Donald and Peggy were blessed with the birth of a son, John, on 7 December 1881.

As far as I have been able to ascertain, John had four siblings. The 1891 census shows an older sister, Mary (3 years older than John). In 1901, John was aged 19, and employed as a postman. The census that year also records Chirsty (15), Kenneth (17) and Murdo (12).

Thirty-six years later, on 16 January 1917, John (now living at 7 Islivig) was married to Catherine Ann Macaulay, a 29-year old nurse from 19 Brenish. She is the daughter of boat-builder John Macaulay and Isabella Matheson. The marriage was conducted at Seaforth House on Scotland Street in Stornoway.

John and Catherine were first cousins, meaning they shared one pair of grandparents. They would have met as the two communities of Islivig and Brenish are only a mile apart in the far west of Lewis.

Catherine Ann (or Kate) was aged 13 at the time of the 1901 census. She had four siblings: Maggie (15), Murdina (11), Malcolm (9), Donald A (7) and Maryann (5).

At the time of his marriage, John’s mother Peggy had died, and Donald, by that time aged 62, was a crofter. His son, John, was a seaman in the Merchant Service, but (1917 being a war year) he is also marked as being in the Royal Naval Reserve, as so many islanders were. John had spent some time in Canada, working in the RCMP. He returned to the United Kingdom to serve his country. He was to have taken Catherine out to Canada to marry her there, but instead they got wed in Stornoway.

The couple did not have children. After John's loss, Catherine never remarried. She continued nursing in the island and on the mainland.

Catherine Ann, John’s wife, died in Stornoway on 17 April 1961, aged 73. She did not marry again. Kate carried on nursing, both in Lewis and on the mainland.


John’s father, Donald Macaulay, passed away in the district of Uig in 1933, aged 80.

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