The 1921 census has now been added to ScotlandsPeople, the NRS ancestry research website.

You can use the census to explore where a person was staying, whether they were at home or staying elsewhere, what their accommodation was like, who they were with, what their occupation was and much more.

Today, we’re looking at what the 1921 census can tell us about the people of the tiny island of St Kilda…

The 1921 census is the last to record a permanent population of people living on St Kilda

The archipelago about forty miles west of Harris in the Western Isles, lost its local population in 1930 when they agreed to evacuate and start new lives on the mainland, life on the islands having become too hard to stay.

People had lived on Hirta, the largest island, for centuries in a settlement known as the Village. The census records show that with the exception of the minister and the nurse, the population made their living from crofting and hand loom weaving.

In the pages of the enumeration book for the island, it is revealed that one person had died so close to census night that her name is included but then later scored out. The revised totals for the island’s population put it at 73 people living in 17 houses. The eldest resident is a woman of 80 and the youngest, a baby boy of 10 months. 18 of those living on the island only spoke Gaelic while 49 spoke both English and Gaelic.

At the bottom of one page is a clipping from The Scotsman newspaper of 23 June 1921, which states that the steamer Hebrides had made the second visit of the season to St Kilda the previous week and had learned of the death of a local woman.

Marion McQueen was 65 years old and widow to the late Donald McQueen. Marion’s name is scored out in the census page above.

A search of the death records on ScotlandsPeople discovered she had died on 10 June, nine days before census day, from heart failure. It is extremely unusual to find a newspaper clipping in the census and it is not clear who added the clipping to the enumeration page.

If you’re interested in the history of St Kilda, you can find out much more at the NRS website.

Images: Crown Copyright, National Records of Scotland

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