The Story behind the Stone – the families, estates and stories of Kirkmichael, Cullicudden, the Black Isle and beyond

Schoolteacher against the odds – Annie Reid and Newhall School

text by Dr Jim Mackay    photography as annotated


There is a particular poignancy about the choice of an open book as the memorial for the Reid family of Balblair and Chapelton. Angus Reid and Catherine Macleod had only the one child, daughter Annie. The School Board in 1896 had to take Angus to court to ensure Annie’s attendance at school.

But in time, against all the odds, Annie became a school teacher herself. I suspect therefore that the choice of an open book as a memorial for her parents cannot have been an accident.

The open book at Kirkmichael; photo by Jim Mackay


It is made of white marble. The inscription on the memorial itself is simple and direct:

In loving memory of / ANGUS REID / June 1845 – April 1915 / and his wife / CATHERINE MACLEOD / Feb. 1855 – May 1922 / “In God is our trust

Angus Reid married Catherine Macleod at Kirkton, on 16 December 1887, coming up to Christmas. It was a Free Church wedding.

Parish of Resolis Marriages
Angus Reid general labourer (bachelor) age 42 usual address the Craggan Resolis parents George Reid general labourer (d) Ann McKenzie out-door worker (d)
Catherine McLeod farmer’s servant (spinster) age 33 usual address Kirkton Resolis parents John McLeod crofter (d) Jessie McLeod ms Munro (d)
John McIver Free Church Minister of Resolis David Anderson witness John Ferguson witness

The first witness, David Anderson, in a few years would become Registrar for the area. He lived in the Craggan, close to the groom. The second witness, John Ferguson, I presume is crofter John Ferguson who lived beside the Balblair Ferry Inn, midway between Kirkton and the Craggan, and whose property Angus Reid would occupy himself later in life.

Annie was born two years later, at the Craggan. The area known as the Craggan was also loosely known as Newhall Point, Chapelton or Chapelton Point.

Many of the original buildings at Chapelton are ruinous, with new housing set back much further from the road; photo by Jim Mackay


Parish of Resolis Births
Ann Reid born 7 December 1889 at Craggan parents Angus Reid general labourer Catherine Reid ms McLeod married 16 December 1887 Resolis informant father present

And now, one of the surprising mysteries associated with the Reid family. The 1891 Census was just around the corner. Resolis was as usual broken into four Enumeration Districts. The Enumerator for District Number 4 was none other than – labourer Angus Reid! These posts were often taken up by clerks, schoolmasters, farmers and so on, but rarely labourers. At first I wondered if there was another Angus Reid in the area, but there was not. Fortunately, he signed the birth certificate of his daughter in 1889, and his signature on that matches his signature as Enumerator within the Census certification.

top: signature of Angus Reid on his daughter’s birth certificate; bottom: signature of Angus Reid on his Census Enumerator’s form; photo by Jim Mackay


There were four Enumerators in total, acting under the supervision of Registrar Donald McDonald – who resided at Chapelton, so must have known Angus Reid very well. The other enumerators included David Anderson, who you may remember was a witness at the wedding of Angus and Catherine, and was to become the Registrar of Resolis after Donald McDonald. Perhaps those were the factors that led to Angus becoming, for this and the following Census only, the Enumerator of District Number 4. Although Angus Reid signed the Census Book as Enumerator, the actual entries for his District (as several other Districts were in past Censuses) were copied out by Registrar and former Cullicudden Schoolmaster Donald McDonald, who presumably liked to have things just perfect.

Angus Reid’s Enumeration District was that odd amalgam of the bits of the County of Ross within Resolis, so the area from Kirkmichael, Kirkton, Balblair and Newhall Point/Chapelton in the east of the parish, and the area of Drumdyre, Wester St Martins, Drumcudden, Kinbeachie and Wester Culbo in the west of the parish. Enumerators were usually selected from the District in which they lived, and so it was in the case of Angus Reid. The Enumerator would hand out the schedules just before the Census and would recover them the day after, working with families who had difficulty completing them, and then copying the schedules into the Census Returns we view (some of us) so critically. Here is the entry for his own family in their modest cottage:

the Reid family’s 1891 Census Return, handed in with all the others for the District by Angus Reid and copied by Donald McDonald


1891 Census Return Parish of Resolis – Chapelton, private house with one room with one or more windows
Angus Reid head mar 45 general labourer Ross Resolis GE
Catherine Reid wife m 36 do. wife Sutherland Assynt G&E
Annie Reid daur 1 Ross Resolis

Given Angus was accepted as a responsible citizen, it is all the more surprising that the School Board had to take action against him. But this is what was reported:

Inverness Courier 25 December 1896
Dingwall Sheriff Court … Failing to Educate. – At the instance of the School Board of Resolis, Angus Reid, labourer, Newhall Point, Resolis, was charged under the Education Acts for failing to send his child, Annie Reid, to school. Reid did not appear, but was represented by Mr A. Ross, solicitor, Dingwall. An attendance order was granted.

Newhall School about 1990; photo by Jim Mackay


The schoolmaster at Newhall School at this time was William B. Gold, from Paisley. I do wonder if there was some tension between families and Mr Gold or the School Board. This was at a time when the School Boards across Scotland were flexing a political muscle which few now even suspect they once possessed. Elections to School Boards were keenly fought, and Resolis School Board had even engaged in a legal dispute against the main proprietor in Resolis, Shaw-Mackenzie, which they had won at the Court of Session but had left them in debt.

Mr Gold departed a year later, in December 1897, and Mr Black, who would be there for a long time, was appointed in March 1900. The intermediate stage between Gold and Black was a Mr and Miss M. Macmichan about whom little is known. But laird Shaw-Mackenzie was later to remark how standards at the school had improved under the new regime, following the appointment of Mr Black.

Headmaster and junior teacher were both appointed in 1900, providing a new regime to teaching at the school.

Aberdeen Journal 26 Mar 1900
RESOLIS. … School Appointment.– Mr Frank R.S. Black has been appointed headmaster of Newhall Public School, Resolis. Mr Black, who is a son of the late popular bank agent at Bonar Bridge, was for about four years assistant at Fortrose Academy. Thence he proceeded to Tain Academy, from which school he was appointed headmaster of Barvas Public School, Lewis.

Northern Chronicle and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland 28 March 1900
SCHOOL APPOINTMENT.– The School Board of Resolis have unanimously appointed Miss Jeannie Mackay, Abriachan School House, assistant teacher in Newhall Public School. Miss Mackay successfully passed the Scholarship examination at the Glasgow F.C. Training College.

Annie Reid was in Class 3 when Mr Black and Miss Mackay arrived. She was first equal in her class that year. Mr Black was to be at Newhall for a long time, and, indeed, taught my mother (and thought very highly of her, and she went on to Invergordon as a result). She used to tell me that while Mr Black had the reputation of a disciplinarian she found him a nice man. His dog Prince, who appears in many later school photos, however had a bad reputation of nipping pupils!

The notorious nipper Prince in either 1906 or 1908 (sources vary as to the date of this school picture, although I think 1906 is perhaps correct); photo courtesy of the late Mrs Essie Munro, Alness Ferry


Here is the report on the prize-giving in 1900:

Highland News 1 September 1900
Newhall Public School – Prize-Day Exhibition.– This school broke up for the autumn holidays on Friday last, when a very interesting exhibition of the work done by the pupils was given. Quite a large number of parents and friends turned out to see the young people. After a very pleasing programme had been gone through, Mr Charles Shaw-Mackenzie of Newhall, chairman of the School Board, in a short speech congratulated the headmaster, Mr Black, and his assistant, Miss Mackay, on the appearance and smart behaviour of their pupils. This was, he said, a new departure in the history of Newhall school, and one which pleased him much. He was especially pleased with the singing and drill exercises. The whole school had already shown marked improvement under the new management. The Laird concluded by asking Miss Macdougall, the Manse, to kindly present the prizes – Girls.– Class 7 –1 Florence Corbett. 2 Dinah Watson. Class 6 – 1 Jeanie Mackay, 2 Bella Maciver. Class 5 – 1 Chrissie MacConnach, 2 Agnes Urquhart. Class 4 – 1 Jessie Paterson, 2 Katie Robertson. Class 3 – 1 Annie Reid 2 Allie Urquhart 3 Janet Cockburn. Class 2 – 1 M.A. Beedie, 2 Bessie Scott. Class 1 – 1 Annie Aird, 2 Agnes Cockburn, 3 Maggie Bisset. Infants – Donald Cockburn, James Macleod, William Cockburn, Hugh Scott, Jessie Corbett, Katie Fraser, Dolina Mackay, M.A. Ferguson. In Scripture – John Ferguson, Jessie Mackay, Maggie Neish, Mina Maciver,

Annie Reid will appear in the school photograph below, which was provided to me courtesy of James Holm of Easter Ferryton. Two children have been positively identified in this photograph, Jessie Watson of Resolis Mains, born 1892, and John Evan Scott of Newmills, born 1891. We know that John Scott was on Class 2 in 1900 because he appears on the prize list the following year on Class 3! And Jessie Watson was on the year below that, appearing in the prize list several years later a class below John Scott and two classes below Annie Reid. I imagine what we are seeing in this photograph are the Newhall Junior classes being taught at this time by Miss Jeanie Mackay who must be the lady on the right.

Newhall School junior classes 1900; photo courtesy of James Holm, Easter Ferryton; if you can identify any others on this photo please contact us on


Annie appears as a scholar in the household of her family at Newhall Point in the 1901 Census, again recorded by her own father as enumerator. The size of the property was now substantially greater.

1901 Census Return Parish of Resolis – Newhall Point, house with four rooms with one or more windows
Angus Reid head mar 56 general farm labourer Resolis Ross-Shire G&E
Catherine Reid wife mar 44 Assynt Sutherland shire G&E
Annie do. daur 11 scholar Resolis Ross-Shire

the Reid family’s 1901 Census Return form, written on this occasion by Enumerator Angus Reid himself


In this year of 1901, by the time of the prize-giving, there were two assistant teachers in Newhall, Miss Mackay and Miss Mackenzie. Annie was first equal in her class again. The boy who was top in the year below, Class 3, was John Scott, to be seen in the photograph above.

North Star and Farmers’ Chronicle 29 August 1901
The annual distribution of prizes took place in this school on Friday, 16th inst., in presence of the parents and friends of the pupils. Mr Shaw-Mackenzie of Newhall, Chairman of the Board, presided, and after a most interesting series of demonstration lessons in the various subjects in the school’s curriculum, congratulated Mr Black, the headmaster, and his assistants, Miss Mackay and Miss Mackenzie, on the excellence of the programme submitted. The school was improving rapidly in all directions, and seems to have fallen under happy conditions since the appointment of the present staff. He complimented both pupils and staff on the pleasant relations subsisting between them. Miss Mackenzie of Newhall kindly presented the prizes to the successful pupils, who were as follows:– … Class IV.– 1 Maggie Macleod and Annie Reid (equal), 2 Allie Urquhart, 3 Sarah Maccormick. Class III. – John Scott, 2 M. A. Beedie, 3 George Macdonald. … Altogether the school is doing remarkably good work under the present good management, whose clerk is Mr Evan Scott, Newmills, who yields to none in educational enthusiasm. The annual grant has increased much, as also the average attendance and percentage in attendance, the last from 79 to 90, some of the remarks of H.M. Inspector’s report being that “the school has passed a very creditable examination” and “the tone and discipline of the school are alike very commendable.”

I have been unable to find similar pieces in the papers for 1902 and 1903, but I do for 1904, which is I think the last year Annie was at school at Newhall. In this year she was third equal, but was also awarded a merit certificate by the Scotch Education Department.

Ross-shire Journal 21 October 1904
Newhall Public School – Distribution of Prizes – On Friday last Newhall School broke up for the usual fortnight of late autumn holidays, when, in presence of members of the School Board and a fair sprinkling of parents, prizes were awarded to the successful pupils. A few choruses being sung by the senior pupils, and solos rendered by Naina S Dick, Amelia McK Dick, Bertha Urquhart, and James Smith, the prizes were presented by Mrs Munro of Poyntzfield to the following:– … Class 7 – 1 Alexina Urquhart, 2 Cathie Macpherson, 3 Sarah Maccormick and Annie Reid (equal). Class 6 – 1 John E Scott … Class 5 – … 2 Jessie WatsonMerit certificates were awarded by the Scotch Education Department to Sarah Maccormick, Annie Reid, Nellie Forbes, and Janet Ross

I lose track of Annie at this point, and the next sighting is in 1911, in the household of her family, and she is at this time recorded as a teacher! Her father, now quite elderly, had given up the role of enumerator, and her mother was not present. The exact location is not given, but next door is the pub, so it must be that small croft just down from the pub identified in the Internal Revenue Survey referred to below. Angus was now recorded as a roadman, so working for the Council rather than as an agricultural labourer.

1911 Census Return Parish of Resolis – Balblair, house with three rooms with one or more windows
Angus Reid head m 65 roadman Resolis ge
Annie Reid daur s 21 school teacher Resolis ge

At which school was Annie teaching? It would be nice to think it was at Newhall, but in reality it could have been at any school within cycling distance in Easter Ross or the Black Isle. And in the midst of this Coronavirus lockdown I cannot check the school logs of the various schools in the area!

Now, here is a curious record. The Inland Revenue carried out a survey of properties in the early 19teens, and if you can link their maps and their entries together you can place parishioners at this time. It is an incredibly helpful survey as you can use the information in conjunction with other sources like census returns to place families. But it doesn’t work for Angus Reid. This is what the survey says:

Inland Revenue Survey, Parish of Resolis, property no. 242
Property: Balblair. / house Owner: Reid, Angus
House materials: stone, lime Roof material: slate
House description: 2 room, closet House condition: fair

Balblair on the Internal Revenue Survey plans; no. 242 is where Angus Reid was residing at the time


The related plan shows that the property is the wee crofthouse behind the former Balblair Ferry Inn, which fits the 1911 census data perfectly. But how did Angus become the owner of a property? There is a story here waiting to be discovered. As an owner, there is likely to be a sasine which would help to clarify the background to this record. I don’t see Angus recorded as an owner in the Valuation Rolls of this period – indeed, in the 1915 Valuation Roll he is given as tenant and occupier of a house at Newhall Point, and in the 1920 Valuation Roll “Widow Catherine Reid” is given as tenant and occupier of a house at Balblair, although the valuation of the property and its location in relation to other inhabitants makes it clear it is the same property as in 1915. But why would the Internal Revenue have recorded him as a house owner?

The crofthouse in 2011; photo courtesy of G. O’Ogle


Angus died in 1916, in the midst of the Great War. The informant was Annie. I take it that as she signed herself Annie Reid she was not married at this time.

Parish of Resolis Deaths
Angus Reid road surface man married to Catherine McLeod died 30 April 1916 at Balblair age 70 parents George Reid (d) Annie McKenzie (d) informant Annie Reid daughter (present)

And her mother Catherine died six years later. Catherine’s son-in-law was the informant.

Parish of Resolis Deaths
Catherine Reid widow of Angus Reid labourer died 21 April 1922 at Balblair age 72 parents John MacLeod crofter (d) Jessie MacLeod ms Munro (d) informant Edward Thorn… [?] son in law (present)

The challenging signature of the son-in-law; if you know the full name, let us know on!


Now, Angus and Catherine had only the one child, Annie Reid, so the son-in-law, who was irritatingly incapable of writing his signature legibly, has to have been the husband of Annie. I think I can make out “Edward Thorn…” But I have tried and tried to find a marriage between Annie Reid and an Edward in the Scottish marriage records without success. Had they married outwith the country? Most frustrating.

And I’m afraid that’s where the story of teacher Annie Reid ends for now. The beautiful open book memorial commemorating her parents stands close to the yews by the north dyke of Kirkmichael, but her life thereafter is anything but an open book to us. We live in hope that somebody out there can assist!


Anything but an open book – the unclear origins of Angus Reid and Catherine Macleod

You would think nothing could be simpler than to find the origins of Angus Reid and Catherine Macleod. Why, their memorial in Kirkmichael gives even the month and year of their births. The names of their parents can be found on their marriage certificate and on their death certificates. And we know their parishes of origin from several census returns. On the face of it, then, their origins should be easy to track. The reality is very different. In fact, I am embarrassed to say, despite all this information, I have not been able to find the birth or baptism records of either Angus Reid or Catherine Macleod.

Angus Reid (1845–1915)
Angus was illegitimate and hence locating his baptism would always be more challenging as it could be under the alleged father’s surname (Reid) or under his mother’s surname (Mackenzie) or it might not recorded at all. It appears to be not at all. I see there was correspondence between the Parochial Board of Resolis and the Parochial Board of Lochbroom as to who should be paying for support of young Angus. This was because his mother Ann was born in Lochbroom (in Ullapool) but was resident in Resolis, and that correspondence might contain further information but I have not been able to access these records at present.

Finding a specific Ann Mackenzie from Ullapool you might think was an impossible task, but in fact she can be tracked by means of her son Angus Reid. Here are the relevant census returns.

1851 Census Return Parish of Resolis – Toberchurn
Ann McKenzie head u 28 seamstress Ullapool
Angus Reid son 5 pauper Resolis
John McKenzie visitor u 23 farm lab Ullapool
1861 Census Return Parish of Resolis – Easter St. Martins
Robert McRae head m 32 meal miller Resolis [Easter St. Martins deleted]
Jane McRae wife m 28 miller’s wife Maryburgh
Angus Reid servant u 16 ploughman Resolis [Toberchurn deleted]
1871 Census Return Parish of Resolis – Newhall Point, household with one room with one or more windows
Ann McKenzie head u 44 domestic serv Lochbroom
Angus Reid son u 25 farm serv Resolis
1881 Census Return Parish of Resolis – Newhall Point, household with one room with one or more windows
Angus Reid head u 34 ag lab Resolis G
Ann McKenzie mother u 54 do. mother Ullapool G

The 1861 entry is revealing, in that Angus mentions he was born in Toberchurn, although this was later amended to Resolis as the parish is what was meant to be entered.

In 1886, the Lunacy Board approved Ann McKenzie to be provided with parochial support, and on 2 March 1887 she was removed to Inverness Lunatic Asylum, where she died a fortnight later, on 17 March. The Asylum medical officer registered Ann’s death and as usual in these cases provided no family information whatsoever.

As often occurs, the son married not long after his mother’s decease. In the case of Angus Reid, he married Catherine Macleod in December of the same year in which his mother, Ann Mackenzie, died.

Catherine Macleod (1855[?]–1922)
Catherine Macleod’s origins should be even easier to trace than those of her husband, Angus Reid. She was born after the start of civil registration when birth registration became mandatory, and her parish of birth of Assynt up in Sutherland is known from later census returns. From her marriage and death certificates we even know the names of her parents (John Macleod and Jessie or Janet Munro). Alas, if only it were as straightforward as that. Assynt didn’t really get the idea behind civil registration, and, in the first year (1855), of the 21 (count ’em!) Macleod children born in the parish nine of them were registered without a Christian name! I have checked all the female entries, at great expense, and none of them has the correct parents. I have checked the Munro births, in case Catherine was registered under her mother’s name – there was none in Sutherland that year to a mother named Janet or Jessie Munro. All to no avail.

I have found that in this era one illegitimate person often married another illegitimate person, and hence Catherine might well have also been illegitimate which might explain the difficulties in finding information on her birth. Expectant mothers in this situation often went to another parish to have their baby so it might well be that the birth was recorded elsewhere.

Strangely enough, there was a Catherine born to a John Macleod and Janet Munro in Assynt, but back in 1832 and it is just possible that Catherine was seriously mis-representing her age later in life. That might just explain why they had only the one child, Annie, born in 1889 – but no, at 57 not even I can accept that solution!

Let me know if you have any information to supplement this appendix!

The Reid Open Book near Kirkmichael’s north dyke; photo by Jim Mackay


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