Alexander Macleod was born in
Balachladaich, Stoer, Assynt 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, 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 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
ministers, to the island. He remained a friend of hers and some of their
correspondence is contained in the Seaforth Muniments.
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 considerably - the Rev John Macdonald 'The
Apostle of the North' wrote about the communions of June 1827:
"The crowd which assembled for the occasion was immense. I suppose the
number on Sabbath day was not under 7,000."
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 a large proportion of
his congregation with him. It was some years before a church and manse were
building, 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.