Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Died on North Rona

I came across the death records of two men from Ness, which were annotated as follows: "Supposed to have died in the month of February [1885], Island of Rona". The cause of death is marked as not known; the deaths were not reported until April 30th. The two men are named as

Malcolm Mcdonald, crofter, married to Mary Mcleod, usual residence Lionel, Barvas. He was aged 67, the son of Murdo and Christina Mcdonald (nee Morrison). His son John reported the death.

Murdo Mckay, crofter, married to Ann Morrison, usual residence Lionel, Barvas. He was aged 57, the son of Murdo and Catherine Mckay (nee Mciver). His daughter Christina reported the death; she was unable to write her name.

The Aberdeen Weekly Journal of 2 May 1885 relates what happened.

Information has been received at Stornoway to the effect that two elderly Ness men who had gone to Rona Island last July - namely Malcolm McDonald and Murdo Mackay - to look after the sheep on the island, were found last week by a crew of Ness fishermen who gone to Rona in a smack to see the men. It was stated that one of the deceased was found dead inside the hut occupied by them, while the other was found outside both with clothes on. From the appearance of the bodies and the large stock of provisions left, it is supposed men died in the winter months, and the man inside died first; and that the other not liking to bury the body or stay in the hut slept outside, his death partly through exposure. The crew when they found the bodies immediately returned to Ness to report the sad circumstances.

The Wikipedia article on North Rona states that the men had gone to the island in June 1884 following a dispute with the minister. A few  months later, boatmen called at Rona and offered to take Macdonald and Mackay back to Lewis, an offer which was declined. After their remains was discovered, it is thought that the two had fallen ill and died through the winter.

No comments:

Post a Comment