There was an interesting and interested gathering at the home of Mr. and Mrs. William Corsie,11 Albert Street, Kirkwall, on Monday evening [February 1913]. The occasion was the celebration of the aged couple's diamond wedding - an event which the members of the family fittingly honoured.
William and Annie Corsie were married on February 16th 1853.The husband is 82 years of age and the spouse 79 as the following certificates show:-
"March 6th1830, William, son of Malcolm Corsie and Isabella Loutit, London, Frotoft, was born 24th August,1830,and baptised 6th March,1831,before witnesses. Extracted from the Register of Births and Baptisms of the United Parishes of Rousay and Egilshay by George Robson, Session Clerk.”
"Ann, daughter of Peter Leonard and Isabel McKinlay, Digro, Sourin, was born 23rd September, and baptised 8th December,1833, before witnesses. Extracted from the Register of Births and Baptisms in the parish of Rousay and Egilshay by James Gardener, minister of Rousay and Egilshay.”
Mr. Corsie served an apprenticeship as tailor in Kirkwall, and afterwards worked at his trade on his father's farm. He also occupied the farm of Brendale on the Rousay estate, and on retiring in 1889 came to Kirkwall to live. Mr. Corsie was for many years a member of the Naval Volunteer Reserve, and is now the doyen of the National Reserve in Orkney. Mrs Corsie is a sister of the late Mr. Peter Leonard, cabinetmaker, Kirkwall, and it is of interest to note that her brother James, who acted as best man to her husband is still alive, and is resident in Oban. Mr. Corsie's only sister who was Mrs. Corsie's bridesmaid, died many years ago.
Of the marriage thirteen children were born - eight sons and five daughters – of whom six sons and all the daughters now survive. The grandchildren number 66, of whom 57 are alive, and the great-grand children 23 of whom 18 survive. The table annexed gives these particulars in more detail:-
William and Annie Corsie of Brendale, Sourin
Children Grand Children Great Grand Children.
Margaret 6 (1 dead) 17 (3 dead)
Annie 4 -
William (dead) - -
Malcolm 6 (3 dead) -
James 6 -
George (dead) 11 (2 dead) -
John 13 (1 dead) 6 (2 dead)
Frederick 10 (2 dead) -
Minnie - -
Jessie 7 -
Bella 3 -
It is interesting to note that the combined ages of Mr. Corsie, and the eldest of the three succeeding generations, total 191 years, viz.:-
William Corsie 82
Eldest child 59
Eldest grandchild 39
Eldest great-grandchild 11
The company which met with Mr. and Mrs. Corsie on Monday night numbered about 35, including 6 of their children - Malcolm the eldest son, who came all the way from South Queensferry; Minnie, from Edinburgh; James, resident in Kirkwall; John, from Rousay; Margaret, from Egilshay: and Annie from Evie. Of the five remaining children unable to be present, most of them live in Midlothian, and as far away as Johannesburg.
The Rev. W. P. Craig, of St. Magnus was asked to preside and opened the proceedings with prayer. He thereafter read Mr. and Mrs. Corsie's marriage, which is in the following terms:-
"Rousay, 9th. Februrary,1853. This is to certify that Wm. Corsie in Nears, and Annie Leonard in Digro, have been regularly proclaimed with a view to marriage and no objection offered. George Robson, S.C.”
"Digro, 16th.February 1853. I have this day married the above parties. James Gardener, Minister of Rousay and Egilshay."
Mr. Craig heartily congratulated Mr. and Mrs. Corsie on attaining the unique distinction of celebrating their diamond wedding. Referring to the extreme rarity of such celebrations, he remarked that they were impossible without an unusual conjunction of circumstances - those of great longevity on the part of both husband and wife, and also an early marriage. After contrasting an ordinary wedding, and its thoughts of anticipation and prospect with a diamond wedding, and its thoughts of retrospect and thanksgiving he went on to speak of the early life of Mr. and Mrs. Corsie in their island home, and of their present joy in the reflection that of all their large number of descendants - almost, he said, the population of a village there was not one that was not a credit and a comfort to them. In this connection, he recalled the old wedding wish, "Long life and prosperity, and may your troubles be little ones," and said that Mr. and Mrs. Corsie had had no fewer than thirteen "little troubles", who had all however, turned out "great blessings". He concluded by speaking of the many excellent qualities of their venerable friends, and by wishing them happiness and peace in the eventide of their life. 0n behalf of the family he then presented Mr. Corsie with a handsome purse of sovereigns to mark the interesting occasion.
Mr. Corsie replied in a speech reminiscent of his younger days, and concluded by handing over the purse to his "better half", who bowed her acknowledgement of the applause with which the company greeted her.
Later in the evening Mr. Craig presented Lena Paton, one of the grandchildren, whom Mr. and Mrs. Corsie have brought up, since the death of the father, with a Bible and Hymnary to commemorate the notable event. The company then sat down to a sumptuous supper presided over by Mr. Craig, and the remainder of the happy evening was spent in song and sentiment. Before leaving, Mr. Craig was awarded a hearty vote of thanks by Mr. Hugh Robertson (son-in-law), Egilshay.
[Copied from a newspaper cutting in the possession of Tommy Gibson, Brinola, Rousay - who also provided the photograph]