The Hawthorn House Cradle (LISDD:2014.210). Bed dimensions 90cm x 47cm x 27cm

Object of the Month: February 2017

The Hawthorn House Cradle

The Hawthorn House Cradle (LISDD:2014.210). Bed dimensions 90cm x 47cm x 27cm

The Hawthorn House Cradle
(LISDD:2014.210)
Bed dimensions 90cm x 47cm x 27cm

Some time between 1823 and 1841, Archibald Stewart, cotter and shoemaker on Baleveolan, died leaving his wife Mary a widow.  Although poor in material resources, Mary was surrounded by Stewart and Livingstone kinsfolk;  she, herself was the daughter of two Stewarts: John Stewart, piper in Baligarve  and Anne Stewart.  Needing to make her own living, she set up as a general merchant, and prospered. The Lismore archive contains invoices from the 1840s for bulk supplies to Mary Stewart on Lismore from John Stewart, Drysalter [dealer in chemicals] in Glasgow (not another close relative).

Original 1845 invoice for whale oil, boiled linseed and seal oil (LISDD:2012.S1)

Original 1845 invoice for whale oil, boiled linseed and seal oil (LISDD:2012.S1)

Her son John (born 1819) trained as a joiner but, after Mary’s death in 1861, he took charge of the merchant business, which had succeeded to such an extent that he was able to build Hawthorn House in the 1860s – stone built and slated, with 9 rooms with windows, it was superior to most houses on the island.  In 1861, aged 41, he married Lilias (Lily) MacQueen, the 19 year old daughter of James MacQueen, Baptist minister in Broadford, Skye.

Hawthorn House today

Hawthorn House today

The cradle, a fine Victorian example, came into the ownership of the museum in 2010 when the last of the Stewarts, Lily Jane Mackie Stewart (1917-2012), granddaughter of John, left the island.  It is more than likely that it was made by John himself, as he was a joiner, and it would have served first for his children with Lilias McQueen (at the 1881 census: James (16), Mary (14), Robert (11), Flora (9), Lilias (6), Anne (9 months)).  No doubt Lily herself was rocked in it in due course.  It is currently part of the fittings of the Heritage Centre Cotter House.

Another vernacular object recovered in the clearance of Hawthorn House (Candle Lantern) is shown in the Object for June 2014.

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