Charles Morrison’s Diary, 15 to 31 January 1864


Oil Sketch, Gina G. Morrison, c.1900

Friday 15th January

I was in the office today seeing about a shop and I also wrote Murdo McDonald. Not very busy. James R. McIver was buried at Gress.

Saturday 16th January

I met Murdo McDonald and spoke to him but he had no intentions of giving up the shop. I then wrote Mr McKenzie about the shop Finlay Stuart was in but it could not be let just now.

Sunday 17th January

In the morning Mr Adam preached from the 89th Psalm 27 verse Also I will make him my first born higher than the kings of the earth. In the afternoon he gave a short lecture on David’s Lament over his son Absalom 2nd Samuel 18th chapter and 33rd verse. In the evening he preached from the 63rd chapter of Isaiah 1st verse Who is this that cometh from Edom with dyed garments from Bozrah this that is glorious in his apparel travelling in the greatness of his strength I that speak in righteousness mighty to save.

Monday 18th January

I got my hat case back from Mr Sutherland the traveller. At night the Revd Mr Adam gave a lecture in the U.P.Church on Scientific men with whom he was personally acquainted. It was a most excellent lecture.

Tuesday 19th January

A beautiful day. At night it rained very heavily. I had a walk with Christina.

Wednesday 20th January

Colin Leitch died at 12 last night. R. McKenzie told me about A.McK & shop. Not busy today.

[Note: Colin Leitch was the sheriff clerk; the sheriff at this time was Alexander Lothian Macdonald. In evidence to the Napier Commission of 1883 (the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Condition of Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands and Islands), Napier Campbell – a solicitor who came to Stornoway in May 1863 to fight in the ‘foreshore dispute’ (see 10 Feb 1863) – stated ‘With the utmost desire to avoid giving offence to the relatives of those two gentlemen, now both dead, I fear that I cannot conscientiously discharge the important duty I have undertaken without stating that neither of those gentlemen appeared to me to maintain the position and dignity of their respective offices, in the face of arbitrary power’. In 1821 a Mrs Leitch owned a property at 11 South Beach, on the site of the Council Offices (1957) next door to the Caledonian Hotel (John Wood’s map)]

Thursday 21st January

Not much doing. I attended the prayer meeting in the U.P. Church.

Friday 22nd January

A number of Lochs folk in town with herrings. At night I went to Goathill and saw the mill working at which I had a turn of the wheel.

Saturday 23rd January

Louis Jamieson died this morning. Colin Leitch was buried. I had a note from Mr McKay saying that the Old Counting house was in the market and I sent in an offer to Mr Munro for it £27-“-“.

[Note: ‘The heritable property known as the Old Counting-House, situated at the junction of Cromwell Street with North Beach Street, Stornoway, consisting of three shops and dwelling houses . . .’ sold for £1030 in 1887 (Edinburgh Evening News, 20 September 1887, 2). It had sold for £525 in c.1875. Presumably Charles’s offer was for one of the three shops.]
[Note about ‘Mr Munro’: The solicitor Donald Munro (c.1818-90) from Tain became Sir James Matheson’s factor in 1853 and assumed the title Chamberlain of The Lews. In Sir James’s absence he controlled all aspects of island life and oppressed the local population, evicting crofters and seizing common land. In 1874 the crofters of Bernera resisted the loss of their grazings (‘The Bernera Riots’) and won a crucial court battle, resulting in the dismissal of the man referred to as ‘The Shah’ or ‘Hebridean Grand Vizier’. In 1864, however, Monro was at the height of his powers. He may have regarded Charles Morrison with some favour since he came from Dornoch – not far from Tain – and was a near neighbour. Munro lived at 13 South Beach Street with his sister Eliza (his housekeeper) and various nieces and nephews.]

Sunday 24th January

In the morning the Revd Mr Adam preached or discoursed on the 28th chapter of Matthew. I presented as William McLeod was getting his child baptised. In the afternoon Mr Adam gave a short lecture from the 8th chapter of proverbs 17th verse Those that seek me early shall find me. In the evening he preached a very impressive sermon from the 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians 29th verse last clause Why are they then baptised for the dead. The church was full.

Monday 25th January

I received a letter from W.R.Sutherland Glasgow. We were very busy today. I spoke to Mrs Pope about lodgings. At night I went to hear Mr Adam’s very interesting lecture upon optics. Then Mr Geo Phillips of Glasgow came up and shook hands with me. I did not know him at first he came in a ship this evening. They left Glasgow 5 weeks ago bound for Port Natal but were driven away to the coast of Greenland. They lost the rudder and bowsprit. There were a number more passengers aboard.

[Note: the story of the Doon featured in the Caledonian Mercury, 5 February 1864, 2: ‘On the evening of Monday the 25th the barque Doon, of Ayr, Captain McEwan, bound from Glasgow to Port Natal, with a general cargo of passengers, put in here in a disabled condition, having lost her rudder and bowsprit, and carried away stanchions and a part of her bulwarks. She appears to be a fine new vessel, and let the Clyde about the end of December’. Newspapers reported several other ship coming into Stornoway for repairs around the same time. ]

Tuesday 26th January

Very stormy and wet. Not much doing. Mrs Hutchinson Soval died at 12.30 noon.

[Note: Mrs Alice Hutchinson (1810-64), wife of Rev. George Henry Hely Hutchinson, vicar of Westport St Mary, Malmesbury. He was responsible for rebuilding the church and establishing the school. In 1861 he was granted leave of absence because his wife had become a Roman Catholic.]

Wednesday 27th January

In the morning I met Mr Phillips & Mr Russell. Mr Phillips introduced me to the Captain of the ship & Miss McEwen. We then went on board the vessel and he shewed us through her and he introduced us to Mr Miller who was lying very poorly. The ship had to be taken to the Beech and a number of carpenters working at her. Her name is the “Doon” of Ayr.

[Note: Although Charles did not mention it, a well-attended meeting of householders was held in the Court House on 27 January 1864 to elect Commissioners under the General Police and  Improvement Act. Those elected were: Captain Donald Mackenzie (61, ship owner), James Mackenzie (60, banker), John Morrison (63, merchant), Malcolm Mackenzie (54, Merchant), Andrew Gibson (53, fish curer), Norman Maciver (64, ship owner), John Fraser (60, baker), Kenneth Smith (63, baker) and Alexander Morrison (rope manufacturer, 60). Donald Munro, the Chamberlain, stood for election but was unsuccessful. Inverness Courier, 11 February 1864, 6]

Thursday 28th January

Not busy today. At night I went home with Christina. We sat in the summer seat awhile.

Friday 29th January

Very wet and blowy. Not much doing.

 Saturday 30th January

I went over to the Creed along with Miss McEwen Messrs Phillips & Miller &c of the Barque “Doon” and went round the walks there.  John McFarlane was appointed Registrar today. Our drawings for the past month is £190-“-” rather less than last year.

 Sunday 31st January

In the morning the Revd Mr Adam preached from 1st Timothy 1st chapter the 12th to the 17th verse. In the afternoon he gave a short address to the children on Abijah. In the evening he preached from the 8th chapter of Romans 2nd verse For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

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