Saturday, 9 April 2011

A tale of four islands - Pabbay

There are several islands called Pabbay around the Hebrides. Pabbay Mor lies off Reef Beach in Uig, Lewis; there is a Pabbay off Broadford in Skye, a Pabbay in the Sound of Harris - and there is the Pabbay south of Barra, which is the subject of this post.

This island had a population varying from 10 to 24 between 1851 and 1901. All the able-bodied men were lost in a violent storm on 1 May 1897, leading to the island's abandonment in the early 20th century.

In 1851, there was a Macneil family in Pabbay, consisting of Niel (50) and his three sons (Donald (22), Donald jr (16), Alexander (14) and daughter Mary (12), together with a niece (Mary, 24). A second family, headed by Flora Maclean (27) and her young daughters Mary and Ann. Mary Macmillan is a house servant.

A decade later, three families can be found in the island, two of whom are called Morison (with one R). These both originate from South Uist. Alexander (41) and Mary (29) have two young children, Margaret and Ronald. Donald and Ann Morison (both 68) are the second family, living with their adult children Angus, Mathy and Margaret. The third Pabbay family are John and Marion Mcconnie [Mccormic], both 28 and hailing from South Uist, with their baby son Donald.
We find those three families again in the 1871 census, with the Mccormic's having had three further additions to the family. A fourth family is now in the island, bringing the population to its peak, with 24 in Pabbay in the year 1871. Neil and Margaret Mcdonald have come in, with baby John having been born in the past month or so. Family no 5 is Matilda Campbell (32), from South Uist, who has moved in with her young son Donald.

Change is afoot in 1881, with a family of Sinclairs coming in. Catherine (31) has three young children; John (36) and Margaret Mackinnon (30) have come with her elderly father, Donald Morison (85). Alex and Mary (now called Margaret) are still there, with their 12-year old son Donald. Matilda Campbell is still living in Pabbay, with 4 children (Ann, Donald, Alexander and Donald), the youngest being only 6 months old.

In 1891, Pabbay's population declines further. There are three brothers Morrison, Ronald, Angus and Donald, living with their stepmother Margaret Morrison. Matilda Campbell (45) is shown in the census with her husband John, 19 years her senior. They now have 4 children. Finally, the Mackinnons are still in the island, with their niece, Mary Ann Mcneil.

On 1 May 1897, the able-bodied men of the island all perished out at sea. The 1901 census reflects that. We only see one young man, Donald Campbell (21). All the other people in Pabbay are elderly, young or female.
John and Magdalen Campbell (73 and 65), with their daughter Annie and son Donald. Annie Morrison (39) is left with her three young children; John and Margaret Mackinnon (69 and 57) are there, with their 8-year old grandson Neil Macneil.

Pabbay was finally abandoned in 1911.

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