Angus Macdonald’s Diary, 1864 to 1872

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Angus Macdonald’s property: his shop at 18 North Beach Street (pink) and his house behind. In 1871 the address of the house was 5 Bank Street (now 7 Bank Street). Present-day 5 Bank Street (formerly Charles Morrison’s shop) is the blue building to the rear. These buildings were all largely reconstructed due to street widening in or around 1867.

The following extracts from Angus Macdonald’s Diary (kept 1864 to 1873) were kindly supplied by his great great granddaughter, Catherine Beveridge.

Angus Macdonald (1839-74) came from Torridon on the west coast of the Scottish mainland. He served his apprenticeship as a salesman with the draper and grocer Murdo Macdonald, his uncle, at 7 Francis Street in Stornoway (Census 1861). In June 1861 Macdonald entered partnership with Charles Morrison as general merchants at 7 North Beach Street, Stornoway. Both men – young and unmarried – lodged at the property, with their landlady Betsy Macdonald. Betsy was not related to Angus despite their shared surname.

In May 1864 Macdonald & Morrison was dissolved, probably because Macdonald was about to get married and had ambitious plans of his own. While Morrison – who was disappointed by the dissolution of the partnership – moved out to establish his own business, Macdonald’s shop remained at 7 North Beach Street. Initially, Macdonald ran it with the help of his brother Murdo. From the extracts below, he appears to have expanded into neighbouring premises in 1865. His family, on the other hand, settled in rented lodgings on Cromwell Street, moving (‘flitting’) again in April and November 1866.

In 1866 Macdonald acquired 18 North Beach Street. He also tried and failed to purchase the Sailors’ Home on Point Street. This was bought instead by Alexander Mackenzie (‘Alic Simon’), and later became home to Charles Morrison & Son Ltd. Shortly after this setback, in 1867, Macdonald built a new house to the rear of his shop, facing Bank Street. The family, their salesmen and servants all lived in this house (Census 1871).

Monday 9 May 1864. Commenced Stocktaking on 1st. inst. Took delivery Frid. last Mcd. & Morrison.

Wednesday 25 May 1864. Murdo [Angus’s brother] to my shop.

Saturday 10 September 1864. Married at Valtos house on Thur 8th last by Rev. J. McRae.

Friday 16 September 1864. Highest tide I ever Saw here.

Saturday 17 September 1864. At 8pm tide even higher than last night. Had to fill up my shop door to keep the sea out.

Wednesday 21 September 1864. Murdo away

Tuesday 27 September 1864. Chas Morrison married at 7a.m. & left per St. [i.e. Steamer]

Friday 17 February 1865. Robert Morrison’s stock for sale.

Saturday 18 February 1865. Offered £88 for R. Morrison’s inventory £99 5s. 4d.

Tuesday 28 February 1865. My off[er]. of ten others accepted for R. Morrison’s stock.

Wednesday 1 March 1865. Opened Robert’s shop. [Robert Morrison’s shop was next to Angus’s on North Beach]

Tuesday 12 December 1865. Paid Shop & Stores rent.

Friday 23 March 1866. My offer for P. Clark’s house declined.

Friday 30 March 1866. Took Miss Stewart Morrison House at £18 Stg. per annum for 1 Year.

Friday 12 April 1866. Flitting to Miss Morrison.

Friday 13 April 1866. Flitted. Working till 3 in the Morning.

Saturday 14 April 1866. We feel thankful we have left our persecuting landlady [i.e. on Cromwell St, not Betsy Macdonald]. We can breathe freely now.

Friday 11 May 1866. Offered £300 for Clark’s house.

Tuesday 11 September 1866. Offered £350 for Clark’s house, offer only binding for this week only.

Saturday 5 September 1866. My offer abandoned for Clark’s house.

Friday 21 September 1866. I think the long battle of the house will be mine.

Friday 5 October 1866. I am now resolved to purchase Clark’s house & by God’s help to build very soon.

Friday 26 October 1866. Had a long consultation with Napier Campbell regarding the house.

Wednesday 31 October 1866. I concluded I can’t buy Clark’s house after all my trouble and expense.

Monday 19 November 1866. Settled with John McFarlane late Shopman for 2¼ years. 

Thursday 22 November 1866. Commenced flitting at 5pm & finished at ¼ 11pm.

Friday 23 November 1866. Removed to our own house & thanks to God for it.

Saturday 1 December 1866. Paid Miss Betsy £15.10 for Mos. Rent.

Friday 14 December 1866. Furnished & Stocked my own Shop.

Saturday 15 December 1866. Offered Sailor’s Home £70.

Tuesday 18 December 1866. Opened my own shop & drew £4 & one.

Friday 26 December 1866. My offer of Sailor’s Home refused.

Tuesday 5 February 1867. Received my lease for 3 years for Miss B. Shop @ £29.

Monday 18 February 1867. Alic Simon cleaning for the foundation on Sailors Home.

Tuesday 19 February 1867. Alic McKenzie found. laid.

Monday 25 February 1867. Pulling down wall between A. McKenzie & Self. I agreed with him to build for £6 say £3 each.

Thursday 18 April 1867. Aler. McKenzie starting his house.

Tuesday 23 April 1867. Alic McKenzie flitting.

Tuesday 12 June 1867. Got Plans of house drawn by Thomas.

Wednesday 13 June 1867. Submitted plan of intended building to Sir James [Matheson].

Monday 5 August 1867. Paid £87.10 being first of new house & 8/7 interest being 36 days past due.

Friday 16 August 1867. Commenced Stripping Shop.

Thursday 22 August 1867. Laid the Foundation of the new gable.

Monday 16 September 1867. Had to take out all the joists & pull down almost the whole of the front wall.

Tuesday 17 September 1867. Very busy between shop and building.

Thursday 19 September 1867. Put up Shop window & Door lintels.

Friday 20 September 1867. Put in low joists.

Saturday 5 Oct 1867. Finished slating house.

Friday 18 October 1867. Put in the windows.

Mon 21 October 1867. Paving in front of house.

November 1867. Paid my rent to Miss Betsy.

Tuesday 11 February 1868. fitting grates in house.

Wednesday 12 February 1868. Fitted grates & put roaring fires in them, they went well.

Thursday 13 February 1868. Putting furniture to new house.

Monday 17 February 1868. Into our own house & thank God for it.

Saturday 6 June 1868. Insured new shop for £300 by Napier Campbell.

Monday 13 July 1868. Paid 2nd instalment of my house on Saturday.

Friday 29 January 1869. Highest tide ever Seen here, it was 5ft in the old & about 6 deep in the new shop, all the Stock each embankment carried away.

Saturday 30 January 1869. Morning tide higher than ever. We have a good deal damaged, but We have nothing to Say.

Wednesday 24 February 1869. Preparing to build a Store in the Close.

Monday 1 March 1869. Settled with Alic Simon for Mutual Wall.

Wednesday 24 March 1869. I am about to dispose of old Shop & Stock at 10% less than cost.

Saturday 27 March 1869. Commenced Stock taking in Old Shop for McLean & McIver.

Friday 2 April 1869. Delivered the Stock in old shop to McIver & McLean.

Wednesday 9 June 1869. Miss Mc Donald (my old landlady) found dead in bed.

Saturday 12 June 1869. Miss Betsy buried.

Thursday 26 August 1869. Thank God, the 3rd instalment of Property paid, only £87.10 to pay.

Friday 12 November 1869. Mrs McDonald’s arch door locked & couldn’t get to Store 10¼a.m.

Friday 30 September 1870. Concert in hall to improve Sailor’s Home at the instance of Admiral Sir Wm. Hall.

Thursday 2 November 1871. Paid last instalment of £87.10 for Property & May God Spare us Long to enjoy it.

Tuesday 7 May 1872. Smallpox in John McKenzie’s shop next door to us. May God preserve us.

Monday 30 September 1872. Very damp. Write A. McKenzie about his gutter behind my new house.

Tuesday 19 November 1872. Dismantling shop for new addition.

Saturday 23 November 1872. Busy about pulling down back wall for addition to shop.

Monday 2 December 1872. Got in the beam in new house.

Monday 16 December 1872. flooring attics.

Angus Macdonald died in 1874. A year later his widow, Eliza, married Allan Macdougall, a fishcurer. They had a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Macdougall, in 1876. By 1881, Eliza had died. In that year one of the children from her first marriage was working in the Lewis Hotel; the others lived with their maternal grandmother in Torridon. The Macdougalls had moved to Glasgow.

It remains uncertain when Charles Morrison moved into 5 Bank Street, but he appears to have been settled there, with his family and shop assistants, by 1871 (Census 1871: ‘6 Point Street Lane’). He presumable paid rent to the property owner, Alic Simon. Thus Angus and Charles were next-door-neighbours for a few years prior to Angus’s death. Perhaps further information will emerge to shed more light on the history of these old Stornoway shops.


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