Norman Macleod

1780 - 1866

Religious leader. Born in Clachtoll (Assynt), MacLeod studied theology at the Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh. However, the established church did not live up to MacLeod's strict Calvinist principles and he left Edinburgh disillusioned. He returned to Assynt and became a teacher in Ullapool, but was also known as a powerful preacher. Soon he was in dispute with the church authorities which forced his resignation, despite his popularity locally. After working briefly as a fisherman in Wick, MacLeod emigrated for Canada in 1817. He established a community at St Ann's (Cape Breton), building a school and church, and attracted followers both from Nova Scotia and Scotland, who became known as 'Normanites'. MacLeod ruled the community with an iron fist and ensured adherence to a strict religious discipline. Following a famine and with the authorities unwilling to help because the community had alienated itself from outsiders, MacLeod took a sizeable group to Melbourne (Australia) in 1851. Life in Australia proved equally hard, with disease sweeping his community, so MacLeod sailed for New Zealand in 1853. Settling in Waipu, MacLeod was joined by over 800 of his followers who arrived from Canada.

MacLeod died of fever in Waipu, but is remembered by a memorial at Clachtoll. The descendants of his followers remain in St Ann's and Waipu to this day.

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