Parish of Stornoway (1831-1845) - Civil History

II.-CIVIL HISTORY. The historians who have given any account of the island of Lewis and of Stornoway, are Dean Monroe, Spottiswood, Martin, James M‘Donald, A. M., and finally, Macculloch, though severe yet true. Maps, plans, and surveys of the parish are in the possession of Mr S. M‘Kenzie. Tradition relates that, in the chapel at Ui, eighteen lairds of M‘Leod, the original possessors of the island, were buried under one stone. William Earl Seaforth lies there interred.

Eminent Men.-Two eminent characters were born in this parish,~-Sir Alexander M‘Kenzie of Avoch, celebrated for his travels and discoveries in the continent of North America; and Colonel Colin M‘Kenzie of the East India Company’s service, distinguished by his voluminous writings, still in manuscript, and his researches into the antiquities of India. The latter left L. 30,000 to Miss Mary M‘Kenzie Cam, his sister, who at her death bequeathed to the poor of Stornoway the interest of L. 140, -leaving, besides, L. 300 to help to build a female school in Stornoway. She left her house and plate to Murdo M‘Kenzie, Esq. Calcutta, a young man who, by perseverance, industry, and attention to business, was enabled, in a few years, to retire with a comfortable independence, and now resides in Stornoway with his lady, assisting many families and relatives. From this parish, went forth to different quarters of the globe, several young men of respectable talents, some preachers and lay-men, who filled reputable stations in society, and by their conduct reflected honour on their native isle. Land-owner.-The only land-owner in the parish is James A.
Stewart M‘Kenzie, Esq. of Seaforth, M. P.; be is married to the eldest daughter of the late Lord Seaforth, by whom he has a large family.

Registers-The earliest entry in the parochial register is dated 1780; the record was discontinued in 1791. Since 1825, the registers have been regularly kept, and weekly entries are made by the session-clerk.

Antiquities. The religious houses or chapels now in ruins are, St Collums in Ui; St Cowstans in Garrabost; and St Aula in Gress, formerly mentioned. The chapel at Ui has strong walls still standing. The south-west end of it is roofed and slated; the minister of Stornoway used to preach there, once in six weeks, be- fore the Government church was erected. Part of the walls of St Aula remain; but the chapel near Garrahost is levelled. There is a large cairn in the moor, above Gress House,-under which, report says, the bones of a Norwegian warrior rest. On the nose of the bay which gives name to the town, there is remaining a frag- ment of a wall, 12 feet high and 4 feet thick,-the wall of a castle built for the protection of the place by the Macleods, the ancient possessors of the island; and at a short distance from this castle, Oliver Cromwell is said to have built a tower to awe the in- habitants, no vestige of which now remains. One of the streets is named Cromwell Street.

Modern Buildings.-The modern buildings are Seaforth Lodge, the church, St John’: Lodge or Masons’ Hall, neat and spacious; a female school jointly endowed by Mrs S. M‘Kenzie and Miss Mary M‘Kenzie Cam, who gave L 300 Sterling; three mills, one for grinding corn, with a saw-mill and excellent kiln appended to it,-the other for carding wool,-all built by the proprietors at a considerable expense, and perfectly complete in their kind. Few mills in Scotland can surpass them in machinery or in utility; in premium was awarded for the carding-mill. There is also a distillery on a grand scale, with ooppers of large diameter, furnaces, vats, coolers, flake-stands under a running stream; also a very large malt-barn and mill. The grain can be received from ships, at the barn door. Vessels can be either loaded or unloaded with the greatest convenience and expedition. The whole premises and apparatus are constructed upon the most improved plans. It must have cost thousands of pounds to complete such a perfect model. No expense had been spared by the spirited proprietor to make it complete; but it is not yet in operation. A light-house is being built
on the point of Amish,‘ that will enable vessels to make the harbour at night,-which attempt, hitherto, was not considered advisable but by those well acquainted with the ground. The site had been chosen and fixed upon by the proprietor, and Captain Benjamin Oliver of his Majesty’s Revenue Cruizer Prince of Wales. There is one rope-walk here.

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