"Tobermory, a seaport village in the N of Mull island Argyllshire, 28 miles WNW of Oban, and 2½ W by S of the nearest point of the Morvern mainland. It stands at the head of a sheltered bay, on the SW side, and towards the north-western entrance of the Sound of Mull; and it was built in 1788, at the same time as Ullapool, by the British Fisheries Company, as the site of a fishing establishment, and the rendezvous of the herring vessels. Its name means ' Mary's Well, ' and was taken from a fountain on the spot, which was dedicated to the Virgin, and had much celebrity in pre-Reformation days. The chief part of the town is arranged in the form of a crescent; but an upper town, surmounting a cliff to the rear, consists almost wholly of cottages or huts, though a number of villas have been recently built on the outskirts. The harbour or bay is spacious, and almost completely landlocked; and is sheltered across the entrance, and at a brief distance, by Calve Island. A quay and pier, constructed at a cost of over £2000, was opened in 1864. As the only town in Mull, and in a large circumjacent district, both Hebridean and continental, Tobermory possesses much provincial importance, and is the seat of some domestic trade. As a seaport, it is the natural outlet of the surplus produce of northern Mull; and enjoys regular steamboat communication with Oban, the Clyde, etc. It has a post office, with money order, savings bank, and telegraph departments, branches of the Clydesdale and North of Scotland Bank, a Scottish Baronial courthouse (1862), a public school, a girls' industrial school, a poorhouse, distillery, six hotels (two of them temperance}, agricultural and horticultural societies, a mutual improvement society, etc. The Temperance Institute, the gift of Alex. Allan, Esq. of Aros, includes a reading-room well supplied with newspapers, etc. , billiard room, circulating library, and hall accommodating between 300 and 400 persons. A new water supply was introduced in 1882 at a cost of over £6000. Places of worship are the quoad sacra parochial church (1827-28), in conjunction with which a church hall and vestry were erected in 1890. It is proposed to erect a new church (1897). There are also a Baptist chapel (1816), and a new Free church (1878-79). The last is an Early English edifice with a tower and spire. The quoad sacra parish, constituted ecclesiastically in 1827, and politically in 1845, is in the presbytery of Mull and the synod of Argyll, its minister's stipend is £200 with manse. The town is a police burgh, and under the Burgh Police Act of 1892 is governed by a provost, 2 bailies, and 6 commissioners. Its prison was closed in 1884. The ' Florida, ' one of the ships of the Spanish Armada, in 1588 was blown up in Tobermory Bay (see INVERARY), where the ill-fated Earl of Argyll put in on 11 May 1685, and where the Queen passed the night of 19 Aug. 1847 on board the royal yacht. Pop. of village (1841) 1396, (1851) 1543, (1871) 1196, (1881) 1200, (1891) 1154, of whom 961 were Gaelic-speaking and 626 females; of q. s. parish (1871) 1344, (1881) 1342, (1891) 1265. Houses in town (1891) inhabited 260, vacant 13."
Extract from Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, c.1896