More about Angus Beag

Rev William Matheson, Mac Gille Chaluim, gives the following about Angus Beag and his departure for Auldearn, which seems to have been precipitated by the harsh words of his wife who accused him of unmanliness (see also the previous note.)

Angus Macaulay’s conduct before the departure of the men of Lewis to Auldean in the Spring of 1645 cannot at this distance of time be judged with any degree of certainty.  Our only source of information is tradition, an the tradition-bearers were by no means impartial.  All accounts agree that he did not at first intend to accompany his clan to the wars.  But different reasons are given for this decision:

(a) he went as far as Stornoway, but there the Uig men in counsel forced him, against his will, to return home, so that there might be one member of the family left to look after the interests of the clan

(b) the men who were to go were chosen by lot on a hill at Ardroil, and the lot did not fall on him.

(c) he was an old man.

Of these reasons, only the first carries any degree of plausibility.  It seems unlikely that lost were cast if Uig sent away sixty men.  This must have represented pretty near the full fighting strength of the parish.  Nor can he have been a very old man.  The most likely guess is that he was about fifty-five years of age, and in any case he cannot have been so very much older than his brothers.

Whatever the reason, return home he did, only to be met by the scorn of his wife, Anna nighean Alasdair.  It is perhaps worth noting that in the Morrison manuscript Traditions we have the statement that Angus was “highly respected” but so isolated in its context as to give the impression that the writer was going out of his way to deny some implied contrary proposition.  The probability is that the conduct of Fear Bhrèinis before Auldearn was the subject of a hot debate about Lewis shennachies for many a long day.

According to well-informed local sources, Angus Macaulay’s house was a Cleidir, north of Islivig.  a water-course guns to the north and south of the site, where the foundations of buildings can still be seen.  On the south bank fo the northern water-course, some distance east of the main road, is the large boulder, known ever since as Clach Aonghais, at which he had his last dramatic encounter with his wife.  We are informed that Clach Aonghais is to be distinguished from Clach Aonghais Bhig, which is beside the road, and refers to a different person – a soldier of the second half of the eighteenth century who, before leaving for the Army, sat there in order to have a last look at his native village.