Rev Alexander Macleod

Rev Alexander Macleod, Baile na CilleAlexander Macleod was born in Balachladaich, Stoer, Assynt in 1786. In 1808 he entered King’s College, Aberdeen to study theology and his first post after completing his studies was tutoring the sons of a farmer in Skye. He evidently eloped with the farmer’s daughter, Margaret, which caused much indignation at the time but peace was later restored; there was no issue that we know of from this marriage.

Tradition suggests Alexander may have been a cousin of Norman Macleod, the famous preacher who took his flock from Assynt to Nova Scotia, then to Australia, before finally settling in Waipu, New Zealand.

He was licenced on 19th October 1818 by the Presbytery of Tongue and ordained in the Gaelic Church of Dundee on 16th December 1819. In September 1821 he was translated to the Gaelic Chapel in Cromarty and he was admitted to Uig in April 1824.

Around 1822 a religious revival had taken place in Lewis (particularly in the parishes of Uig and Barvas). A Gaelic Society teacher, John Macleod, defied his employers to preach to the population. The new evangelical preaching was encouraged by Lady Hood, Mrs Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth, and she was responsible for bringing the Rev Alexander, the first of these evangelical ministers, to the island.

In the first decade of his time in Uig a new wing was added to the manse and a new church was built to accommodate 1000 people.

Although he was not renowned for his own particular eloquence, under his ministry his congregation grew enormously – the Rev John Macdonald ‘The Apostle of the North’ wrote about the communions of June 1827 that the crowd was immense and exceeded 7000.  In 1828 the number at communions was reported as 9000 and in 1833 the congregation included people from Harris and Uist.

After the Disruption in May 1843 Rev Macleod applied to be enrolled as a member of the Presbytery and his name was added to the Roll of Free Church of Scotland ministers. He moved to Miavaig and took virtually the whole of his congregation with him. It was some years before a church and manse were built (by Big Bear Maclean’s father), and he had left the district before these were completed. In one of his letters of 1844 he mentions a cottage he had built in Reef – this would probably have been the temporary manse – but he complains of the cold and damp and how he would not have stayed there in winter if he had had to remain in Uig.

He left Uig in December 1843 when he moved to Lochalsh and ministered there for three years before moving to Rogart in May 1846, where he remained until his death in November 1869.

We have letters from Rev Macleod to Lady Hood, Mrs Stewart Mackenzie, written in 1824 and 1844 which give an indication of his perception of Uig.

6 thoughts on “Rev Alexander Macleod

  1. The Rev Alexander Macleod was my Great great grandfather’s brother.As far as I am aware he was not related to The famed Rev Norman Macleod as conjectured here. Ihave extensive family records none of which show any such relationship. THe Rev Alexander Macleod was indeed a man of God and a very influential force in the Free KIrk.

  2. It would be certainly be good to have the supposition confirmed or dismissed. We know that Alexander was certainly under the influence of Norman early on – in a booklet of sermons, a memoir by a Rev Beaton of Wick says:

    Nothwithstanding the fact that Mr Macleod was strongly recommended by the Rev John Kennedy, afterwards of Killearnan, the Presbytery of Tongue, when he appeared before them for license, took notice of Mr Macleod’s sympathies with Norman Macleod’s views, as the following minute shows: “They had been informed that he did at one time join a certain party or religious sect in the parish of Assint, who had openly and avowedly seceded from the Established Church of Scotland. They seriously interrogated him regarding his having renounced the peculiar tenets of said party. To which he answered, that with a conscience void of offence he was able to declare his firm attachment to the Church of Scotland, and also his having wholly renounced the party which he onced joined.” (Tongue Presbytery Register, 19 Oct 1818).

  3. Dear Iain F. Macleod,
    Would you mind contacting me directly at
    as in the genealogy of my wife there are several Rev. Alexander Macleod.
    One is born in 1827 at 2 Kershader and was the minister at Strontian in 1868.Unfortunately we know very little about him and his three sons.
    The other was born at 4 Kershader in 1822 and died Habost 17 Oct. 1903, who had three sons who were also ministers of the Church, Rev. Donald Macleod (at Leurbost), Rev. Alexander Macleod (Croy,Rogart and Porthmahomack), Rev. Kenneth Macleod (China).
    My wife’s (a Macleod) grandfather was Rev. Alaisdair MacGillivray Macleod and her great grandfather was Rev. George Macleod of Knock and Garrabost.
    Many thanks and sincere regards,
    Gerard Lemmens

  4. Dear Iain F MacLeod,
    I have just read this article and your comment concerning the Rev Alexander MacLeod. What particularly struck me was the information that you are the Great Great Grandson of his brother. I assume by this that you mean John, who is my G/G/G/ Grandfather. I am particularly interested in finding out more about both of these men and their sisters and would be grateful if you would be able to contact me on as you state you have extensive family records

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