Excerpt from the memoirs of Charles Wesley Blackett (1859-1925).
Courtesy of Donna Blackett Long
(Note: The memoir was written in 1925, just before his death. This excerpt explains what he knew about his mother’s side. The vast majority of the memoir is about the Blackett side, and about his immediate family)
"William McLellan, the orphan son of an English army officer who had been brought up by an uncle in Stornoway, a fine looking young man with a good education for the time, went for a trip to Pabbay near Harris. He fell desperately in love with a Miss McLeod, daughter of a well to do farmer and a descendent of an old family that had lived there for several hundred years. They were married and McLellan settled there and try to farm it. He was no farmer but his wife was. They had children, Donald, Neil, Margaret, and Catherine. Margaret was my mother and Catherine married William Moorehouse, an English soldier. She lived a widow many years in Sydney, Cape Breton. Mother often told of their home in Pabbay, the high mountain on one side of the island, over which she tumbled when a child, and was caught by her dress gripping a spur of rock. She told stories also of the making of “kelp” which I take it was the burning of kelp on the sand until they were able to mix the hot sand with the soda of the kelp into balls of glass. These they sold to traders or carried to the mainland. They were not averse to turning barley grain into whiskey and the guagers were thought men to be circumvented. Stills were often dismantled and hidden if a guager’s sail was seen upon the horizon. The people were Presbyterians, Kirk at first, but during my mother's childhood the evangelical preaching began to bear fruit. Evangelists got the hearts of many, her family among them. About 1827 my grandfather William McLellan emigrated with his family to Cape Breton. He came as a kind of leader in the party because of his education. His uncle was supposed to furnish him with goods to exchange for lumber. He died of pneumonia the year after his arrival, leaving his wife and family to the hard mercies of a pioneer land. Grandmother who adored her husband never really recovered from her sorrow and loss. They struggled on to earn a living. The uncle in Stornoway seemed to have dropped everything. Donald and Neil went to sea.