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Rachel was born in 1805, the daughter of Neil MacAskill and Mary MacRailt of Borve and Ruisgarry. She married widower Norman MacDonald of old Borve, with whom she was to have two children. The site of their home was later known as Tobhta Thormoid Dhuinne. In 1854 Borve was cleared and the family were removed to Quay, where they lived as cottars. Following her husband's death in 1868 Rachel worked as a grocer and weaveress.