Saturday, 21 May 2011

Trip to St Kilda

The Glasgow Herald, 14 June 1873
Our Stornoway correspondent writes:
Her Majesty's steamer Jackal (Lieutenant Clanchy commander), at present cruising about the Hebrides, an in charge of the fisheries at Barra, &c, recently visited St Kilda. After taking on board a supply of coal, the Jackal left Stornoway on Tuesday 3rd [June 1873] at 9 o'clock PM and arrived at the island the following morning, about ten o'clock. After a stay of two hours, the steamer took her departure, and returned to Stornoway harbour shortly after midnight same day, accomplishing the passage - via the Sound of Harris, a distance of nearly 200 miles - in about 27½ hours. The weather was all that could be wished by day and by night, and the waters of the Atlantic were as smooth as Stornoway Loch. The Kildeans, who presented a respecteable appearance, met those on board of the steamer at the landing place and gave them a hearty welcome,  many of them speaking good English. The village is situated about a quarter of a mile from the bay on the southeast, the only accessible part of the island, and is in the form of a semi-circle. The houses are pretty well kept. The roofs are covered with zinc, this metal having been substituted by the proprietor some years ago, after the old roofs of the houses had been blown off by a gale of wind. At present, the general health of the people is good. During last year, there were five births, and what is very exceptional, all the children have lived. Of late years, few born in the island survived beyond infancy. The population is between 71 and 80, being an increase since the last census was taken. There is a minister placed over the people in connection with the Free Church, and a suitable church and manse have been built. Mr George Coats, Collector of Customs, Stornoway, and Receiver of Wreck for the Hebrides, went to visit the island on duty, in connection with the Board of Trade. It may be added that St Kilda is the most remote of the Hebridean group.
"Whose lonely race
Resigns the setting sun to Indian worlds "
The nearest land to it is Harris, and the Butt of Lews is 82 miles distant. It is about 3 miles long, from east to west; 2 broad, north to south; and 9½ miles in circumference. The proprietor is Macleod of Macleod.
[End of Article]

It is noteworthy that the censuses for 1871 and 1881 do not show Mr George Coats as collector of customs, or in any other capacity at Stornoway. Direcleit has summed up who the collectors were between 1841 and 1901.

The 1871 census shows that there were 71 people on St Kilda, spread out over 19 households. 

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