Garson was a farm on the Westside, now forming part of Westness farm. The house stood on a slope below Quoygrinnie, and was the home of the Reid family in the 1840’s and 50’s. George Reid was born in Westray in 1755, and married Barbara Logie, daughter of Gilbert Logie and Helen Scott in Westray. George came to Rousay as a servant at Westness, and lived at nearby Pow where he and Barbara raised a family of six children between 1801 and 1819; Barbara was born in 1801, George in 1807, Peter in 1810, Jean in 1813, Elizabeth in 1815, and Mary in 1819. George and Barbara moved to Garson, and their son George stayed at Pow with his family and continued farming the surrounding land.

Peter Reid, born in 1810, was a fisherman. He married Mary Louttit, daughter of Drummond Louttit and Betsy Flaws, who was born in 1807, and they had three children, Elizabeth Traill, Mary and Peter.


In 1862, daughter Mary had a son, and he was christened Alexander Learmonth Reid. He married Harriet Logie, a daughter of shepherd Robert Logie and Mary Murray, and they had two sons, Alexander, and Harry.


Harriet died of haemorrhage three hours after Harry’s birth at Brough, on 26th November 1894, her husband Alexander later moving to Melsetter on Hoy, where he was employed as a gardener. Come World War 1 Harry joined up, and served with the 3rd (Reserve) Seaforth Highlanders, and his brother Alex served in a Canadian artillery unit and survived the war. Harry was not so lucky though, for he died of measles and pneumonia on May 14th 1917 at the age of 22.

The following has been extracted from The Orcadian newspaper of May 23rd 1917:-


ROUSAY MILITARY FUNERAL:-  On Thursday last  the  remains  of  Pte. Harry Reid, of the Seaforth Highlanders, the son of Mr. Alexander Reid, gardener, Melsetter, Longhope, was brought to the island by patrol boat and interred in Westside churchyard. The bearing and firing parties were of the O.R.G.A. Territorials, and they accompanied the remains from Kirkwall. There were present also a number of relations and friends from Longhope. They were met at Westness by a large number of inhabitants, who followed the cortege to the graveyard. The service, which was most impressive, was conducted by the Rev. Duncan Maclaren of Evie, who kindly officiated in the absence of the Rev. J. Deas Logie, who is now attending the assembly. The greatest sympathy is felt for Mr. Reid, father of the deceased, which was evidenced by the number of mourners who accompanied the remains to the churchyard. Mr. Reid’s other son joined the colours in Canada, and is now serving with the Canadians.

The view the Reid family would have had from Garson


I had often heard of one, George Reid,

In Rousay he did dwell:

That long he worked with plough and spade;

The truth I mean to tell.


His name in print had lately been,

When some account was given

That George the wondrous age had seen,

One hundred years and seven.


I therefore to that isle did go,

And climbed up the hill,

And there I found old George, who

Was hale and hearty still.


My man went in to break the tale,

Which was by my desire,

And Georg e was sipping milk and meal,

As sitting by the fire.


I went into the house also,

And there beheld the scene;

And told George I should like to show

Him to our gracious Queen.


The snow had fell the day before,

Which rather troubled me.

Yet George agreed to come outdoors,

And sit just as you see.


A second time I asked him out.

He said he was quite willing;

He knew well what he was about,

So asked of me a shilling.


When out of doors, the sun and snow

That in his eyes brought tears,

In all respects he looked as though

He still might live for years.


His cheeks were full and colour good,

With some teeth, strange to say,

With which to masticate his food;

His beard was scarcely grey.


And when he sat down in his chair,

I did his portrait take;

I must confess it made me stare -

His head nor hand did shake.


Two days before that I came there

He travelled up the hill,

Unto a neighbouring house that's near,

And that of his own will.


To beg a little weed so dear -

You will think this a joke -‘

But since he turned his hundredth year,

Old George had learned to smoke.


His sight and hearing are quite good,

His intellect also;

He spoke of things he understood

An hundred years ago.


He said that he from Westray came,

And made me understand,

The year that he was born, the same

Was famine in the land.


A castle in that isle yet stands.

I asked him also

If he remembered that Northland

An hundred years ago.


He told me yes, and gave the name

Of people who lived there.

From others I have learned the same -

It is an hundred years.


His calling I desired to know.

He let me understand

His business was to plough and sow,

And help to till the land.


His food was on a moderate scale,

And that his humble dish.

A few potatoes, milk and meal,

Sometimes a little fish.


I asked him how his health was still.

He said he had been queer;

And had indeed been very ill

When in his hundredth year.


For five years past, as he told me,

Much better he had been;

It was a pleasant sight to see,

He looked so neat and clean.


I now had carried out my plan,

That had much pleasure given;

I took my leave of this old man,





George Reid, the Rousay Centenarian


[Photo courtesy of Tommy Gibson]

The following poem was published in The Orkney View, issue No. 54 June/July 1994, and reproduced with the permission of the editors. It was sent to them by J. O. Sclater of Orphir, whose father was given it by Robert Johnson of Scows, Orphir around 1920. It is thought that George Reid, who died in 1858, was Mr Johnson's great-grandfather. Who the writer was is not known.

*Following the poem in the last issue about George Reid, the Rousay centenarian, Tommy Gibson from Brinola, Rousay tells us that Reid had been born in Westray in 1755 and came to Rousay to work for the Traills at Westness House. He was ‘cleared’ from Quandale and later farmed in Woo in Sourin for a short time, ending up in Garson on the Westside. The man who took Reid’s photograph was Queen Victoria’s photographer in Scotland whom she specially sent to Rousay. It is unlikely that Reid was 107 as the poem stated. It is estimated that he died at the age of 104.


The following paragraph was included in the next edition of The Orkney View:-


Pic 004 Quoygrinnie (4) 1858 6 july edinburgh evening courant George Reid, 104 years old