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Janet, known as Jessie, was born in 1869, the daughter of schoolmaster Donald John MacLean and Helen Wood of Rubha Mor.
Jessie became a pupil teacher at Berneray School and in 1886 married schoolteacher James Young of Boreray, with whom she had at least three sons. They moved to Drinishader.
It is likely that the family moved to various locations with James’ work, since their sons transferred from Baleshare Primary School to Berneray School for three months in 1909, and then transferred to Saltcoats Primary School. In November 1913 the family seems to have returned to Berneray for a while.