Sunday, 1 May 2011

Remembering today - 1 May 1897

The Outer Hebrides were lashed by a severe storm on this day, 114 years ago, and the start of the herring fishing was delayed by the storm. Nonetheless, the fishermen of the Bishops Isles (south of Barra) were out to make a living from the sea. The Mingulay boat weathered the storm and returned home safely. The boat from Pabbay would never return.

The Aberdeen Weekly Journal of 12 May 1897 carried the following article:

Five men drowned

The fishing boat Lizzie, CY 114, belonging to Pabbay Island (Barra) while prosecuting the cod and ling fishing near Mingulay on Saturday last, is supposed to have foundered with all hands. It is feared the supposition was only too true as the weather on that date was very stormy and the boat was a small craft which carried a crew of five, three of whom were married. The following are the names: [...] Morrison, leaves a widow and three of a family; Alexander Morrison, a widow and one of a family; D. McNeil, a widow and three of a family; John Gillies and Ranald Campbell, both unmarried.

As far as the fishing boat was concerned, she was a tiny craft of 5 metres (about 17 ft) in length, registering at 1 ton. Lizzie was a wooden lugger, proceeding from Pabba to fishing in ballast. Her owner were N. Mcintyre & co of Castlebay, Barra. She was lost 5 miles from Barra Head.

The death records for Castlebay drily list the names of the five men who were lost from the boat. A fatal accident inquiry appears not to have taken place, as no reference to this incident can be found in the National Archives of Scotland

With regards to the names, four of these can be cross-referenced with the 1891 census for Pabbay. The fifth, John Gillies, must have come to the island since that last census.

Ronald Morrison, fisherman & crofter, married, aged 37.
Alexander Morrison, fisherman & crofter, married, aged 33.
Sons of Alexander (deceased) and Mary Morrison.

Donald Macneil, fisherman, married, aged 33.
Son of Kenneth Macneil and Sarah Macneil nee Campbell

John Gillies, fisherman, single, aged 30.
Son of Archibald and Mary Gillies (neeMaclean)

Ronald Campbell, fisherman, single, aged 25
Son of John and Matilda Campbell (nee Morrison).

All casualties are annotated as follows:
Believed to have been drowned by swamping of boat in a storm. Body not recovered
Registered on the information of Archd A Chisholm, Procurator-Fiscal.
Castlebay, 13 July 1897

My thanks to Direcleit for pointing me to the newspaper clipping.

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