In local narratives the surname of the MacAulays of Uig, Isle of Lewis, is from the Norse word Olaf. However, some Lewis MacAulays are of Irish descent as the result of a murder (Alastair Moffat’s feature, 3 December).
An Irish packman visiting Uig, Lewis, used to wander from village to village selling his wares, and to pay for his keep used to play old ballads on his harp.
He was accompanied by an attractive young wife. A member of the MacAulay clan murdered the Irishman at Gisla, Uig, kidnapped the wife and forced her to marry him. Unknown to MacAulay, she was pregnant when he married her. She gave birth to a son and MacAulay reared him as his own and gave him the MacAulay surname. In Uig, the MacAulays descended from this boy were known as Sliochd a ’Chlarsair (progeny of the harper). These MacAulays resided in the area where the Lewis Chessmen were found.
However, the total population was evicted in 1837 to create Ardroil sheep farm. The cleared MacAulays sought refuge in other villages in Lewis and Harris but the majority emigrated and settled in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada.
Donald J MacLeod
Bridge of Don, Aberdeen