John "Shok" Urquhart

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John "Shok" Urquhart

An interesting 19th century Reiff resident.

This file is one of many that link from my website that focusses on genealogy and history of Coigach;

Any suggestions for additions or edits please email me,

Donald MacDonald-Ross

John "Shok" Urquhart

"Shok" was a son of Murdo Urquhart and Ann McLeod of Reiff, christened 21 January, 1827, and died unmarried 24 March, 1913. He first appears in the Reiff censuses as a thirteen year old at Reiff 41-10, and last in 1891 at Reiff 91-22 as a sixty year old.

Donald MacLeod in New Zealand (CONTACT INFO), and his cousin Roddy MacLeod in Scotland (CONTACT INFO), are descended from Mary Urquhart who married Kenneth MacLennan of Reiff in 1853, see Reiff 61-17. Donald and Roddy have sent me details from a family history written by a son of Kenneth and Mary, Neil Mackenzie MacLennan in 1939. Neil's history focuses on the Reiff MacLennans, and related familys, touching on the Urquharts, including his uncle John.

Neil's history includes a story he heard from his uncle John Urquhart. Neil wrote of John;

"He had been at the herring fishing in Wick and was on his way home, walking of course." and later " 'I had made a good fishing', John said, 'and had over twenty pounds (a goodly sum in those days) in my pocket book, and I meant to reach home with it'"

Donald MacLeod sends the following regarding John Urquhart from Neil Mackenzie MacLennan's history as well;

"I was interested to read John Urquhart (Shok as he was familiarly known) had been a runner in the American Civil War. He was a tall, tough, wiry man as I recall him in his old age."

In the 1860s during the U.S. Civil War a naval blockade was imposed against the southern States. There was great demand in Europe for southern cotton, and in the South for European trade goods and weaponry, Blockade Runners such as Shok saw an opportunity, and chanced their lives smuggling.

An excellent website dealing with the Civil War blockade runners is Mark F. Jenkin's Ironclads and Blockade Runners. Mark says;

"more than three hundred steamers made over 1,300 attempts to run the blockade during the Civil War. Many of these were normal merchant vessels, but an ever-increasing number were purpose-built, with low silhouettes, light draft, and high speed."

Given his experience in the North Sea fisheries, and his pride at having returned by foot all the way from Wick to Reiff with twenty pounds safe in his pocketbook, and adventuring as a Blockade Runner the few details available for Shok's life sketch a colourful character!

This file, and others dealing with history and genealogy of Coigach, links from my homepage at:

Any suggestions for additions or edits please feel free to email me,

Donald MacDonald-Ross, at:

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