Pabbay Mor

Pabbay Mor is an island located a few hundred metres off the shore from Valtos in Loch Roag.

The name, from the Norse, means Priest’s Island and there are numerous archaeological sites here including the settlement at Briomanish and the mediaeval St Peter’s Church.

Valtos looking over to Pabbay Mor

The smaller Pabbay Bheag is located to the north, opposite a spectacular lagoon.
Pabbay Bheag is a small island located off the north shore of Pabbay Mhor, near Valtos in Uig. Pabbay is from the Norse for Priest’s Island.
The remains of a settlement have been found here.

Traditionally it was occupied by the Macleods

A place of refuge for the Chief of the Lewis Macleods, and the home, in the 15th century, of Norman Macleod (brother to Roderick Og) and his sons. The land opposite at Reef, Kneep and Valtos was held by Dugald Macaulay, and a terrible dispute erupted between the two families, when the Macleods slew the Macaulays, and were themselves eventually destroyed by John Roy Macaulay.

In 1806 the widow of Donald Mackenzie and her four daughters were forced to leave the island as they had no menfolk to handle the boat.
Donald lived on Pabbay with his wife Anne nee Macleod.
He left to fight in the Napoleonic Wars and was killed at the Battle of Maida in Italy – evidently the only Uigeach to lose his life there.

He had several sons and four daughters:
Ann 1790 (m John Macdonald, Gisla)
Margaret 1789 (m Zachariah Macaulay)
Janet (m Donald Ross – emigrated)
Annabella (m Murdo Macleod).
The sons had left the island and after Donald’s death his widow and daughters were obliged to leave the island.

A few families continued on the island, notably Macivers, Morrisons and Macleans and at least one Smith.

About 1827 it became part of the Linshader tack and the crofters were removed.

In 1885 at the time of Valtos and Kneep land dispute, the grazings on Pabbay belonged to James Mackenzie, tacksman of Linshader and Reef, but the local crofters used it without his consent, resulting in forceable removal of the stock by the authorities.

Today it is privately owned by a summer visitor and used by crofters who transport their sheep by boat to the island for grazing.


John Roy Macaulay
Donald Mackenzie
Kitty Smith

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