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Norman was born in about 1809, the son of John MacKillop and Catherine MacLeod. Their home was at a site now known as Tobhta Iain 'ic Bhàic.
Norman married Catherine MacCusbic, with whom he was to have eight children. They made their home in old Borve, where Norman was a farmer. However, in 1854 the family were removed to Lamerick, where they became cottars.