Charles Morrison’s Diary, 19 to 31 January 1863

Boats SY oil

Boats in Stornoway Harbour, oil painting by Gina G. Morrison, c.1900

Monday 19th January

Very stormy today business the slackest day I have seen since I commenced.

Tuesday 20th January

The shop shut today. Miss Margaret McDonald buried. There were a great number at the funeral.

Wednesday 21st January

This morning at ½ past 5 Roderick Morrison Banker died. He was a very useful member of the community and will be missed very much by most of the Lewis fishermen. Trade very dull for 3 days back.

[NOTE: Roderick Morison (c.1794-1863) lived at 6 Francis St. He was agent for the National Bank of Scotland (running the branch since it first opened in June 1830), Lloyd’s Bank and the Hudson Bay Co. In addition, he owned several fishing boats, was a fish curer and a general merchant. On several occasions he served as Master of Fortrose Lodge. Morison’s funeral on 24 January (see below) was reportedly the largest ever witnessed in Stornoway, ‘in the face of sleet and storm’. After his death, the family emigrated to Australia: see Charles’s diary entry for 15 October 1863 for the sale of Mrs Morison’s household furniture.]

Roderick Morrison’s headstone, Sandwick Cemetery

Thursday 22nd January

A very high tide this morning reaching to the door of the shop. I have not been very well today a closeness in my chest owing to being working among meal yesterday. I had a letter from home today they tell me that poor Uncle John’s wife died on Tuesday the 6th. At night I had a walk to the length of McKenzie’s well and had the pleasure of seeing – – –

[NOTE: McKenzie’s well was possibly the same as Seaforth Well, close to Goathill Farm in Coulegrain]

Friday 23rd January

Cold and showery.

Saturday 24th January

Mr Roderick Morrison buried the funeral was numerously attended the shops shut from 12 to 4 there were about 500 at the funeral a good number came from the country to it. I have been kept to the house all day with toothache my cheek was swollen very much. Mr Norman McIver canvassing for the agency of the National Bank.

Sunday 25th January

Not being able to go out today with my cheek.

Monday 26th January

Still confined to the house the day very coarse. I wrote home today.

Tuesday 27th January

Attend the shop today. I had a letter from James Matheson Stirling and John Robertson Portree At night I saw – – –   Messers Norman McIver & Wm Ross went to Edinburgh to try for N. Bank agency.

[NOTE: John Robertson (1839-1890) was born in Skye. In 1861 he was working for Matthew Russell in Stornoway, alongside Charles Morrison, but eventually returned to Portree to set himself up as a draper and grocer. He and Charles remained lifelong friends.]

Wednesday 28th January

Very busy today. I had a letter from my sister Kate.

Thursday 29th January

Not much doing today. Very stormy the most of today. I had a letter from – – – Tonight I have been seeing Miss Betsey McDonald. Misses Barbara Reid & Agnes McDonald were there.

Friday 30th January

Angus has been selling braws in the morning. Very busy all day. At night I saw – – –

Saturday 31st January

A beautiful day. I have been composing a letter for – – – in reply to M Mc M. The past month has upon the whole been a pretty busy one. Our drawings are £199 which is very good for January.

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