we do not have even an approximate date of birth for Robert Macpherson, we know that he must have been born somewhere around
1800, as he was married to Ann McKay on the 8th February 1827, in the Parish of Farr, by Rev. D. McKenzie.
the marriage entry, Robert’s place of residence is given as Breckachy, Parish of Kildonan. Although Breckachy does not appear on present-day maps, the ordnance survey 1:25000 map for Loch Rimsdale
shows the name “Breacough” in a location which matches the description goven in “Memorabilia Domestica”.
Its author , Rev. Donald Sage, was the son of Rev. Alexander Sage, minister of Kildonan Parish from 1787 to 1824.
At the time of their marriage, Robert Macpherson’s bride, Ann McKay, was living
at Newland, Parish of Farr, according to the marriage entry. Information from
Ann’s death certificate shows that her parents were Robert McKay, Crofter
and Barbara (McKay) McKay. It seems likely that for the first few years of their
married life, Robert and Anne lived with Anne’s widowed mother, giving her assistance with the Croft at Newland. Newland is located on the outskirts of Bettyhill, on the North Coast of Sutherland,
and was one of the areas to which the tenants evicted from Strathnaver by the Sutherland family in the clearances were directed.
and Anne had five children whose births and baptisms were entered as follows in the Parish Register of Farr:
- Robert born 10th December 1828, baptised 15th December
- Henrietta born 15th September 1830, baptised 19th September
- Barbara born 15th September 1834, baptised 18th September
- William John born 27th August 1837, baptised n/a
- John born 16th November 1840,
9th December 1840
no time was wasted in ensuring that the children were baptised, in case of their
early demise, in those hard times.
have very little information about their lives during these years, except for two small items of a financial nature. First, in the list of persons who subscribed to the memorial fund to the first Duke
of Sutherland, in 1833, the name of Robert Macpherson appears in the section for the Parish of Farr. He gave a donation of 1/- probably all he could afford. Also
amongst the Sutherland Estate Papers there exists a deposit ledger for the Sutherland Savings Bank, with a section for the
Parish of Farr, 1834 – 1852. Entry #21 relates to Robert Macpherson, Tenant,
Newland, and shows that in January 1840 he had a balance of 14/- in his account.
extract from the 1841 Census records for Farr includes the names of all the family except that of the father Robert Macpherson.
1851 Census tells us that Ann was a widow and a “farmer of 1 acre”. Robert, the eldest son was working as a labourer,
Henny (Henrietta) was evidently at home, and the three youngest, Barbara, William
and John, were all listed as scholars.
name still appears in the 1861 and 1871 Census records for Newland as a tenant and crofter, but does not appear in the 1881
Census. A search of the death records revealed that Ann Macpherson died on the
23rd July 1878, at the age of 79. The cause of death was give as “old
age”, and Ann’s son, William John, was the informant. She must have
had a hard life, but lived to a good old age.
Extract from “History of a Macpherson Family” by Margaret Hambleton 1987
Edited by Chalmers Cursley May 2006