1870 October 26 Orkney Herald


ROUSAY – THE weather during the harvest weeks has been very fine, and the crop was cut in excellent condition, but some of our farmers were too hurried in taking it into their stackyard, when the excessive heat, and the absence of a gale of wind, caused some of the oats to heat a little, causing it to be taken down; but this little trouble is more than compensated for by the good effect the warm weather has had on the turnips, which look to be a good crop. Potatoes are also a good crop, far above that of last year.


WE had a visit of Colonel Burroughs and his lady for a few weeks, during which time they visited every house in the island, and seemed to take a deep interest in the welfare of the tenantry. The Colonel seemed highly satisfied with the improvements made on his island during the past ten years, and has complimented his tenants that in many cases they have done beyond his expectations.


EDUCATION IN ROUSAY. To the Editor of the “Orkney Herald.”

Sir, - lf we are behind in any one thing more than another it is education. I do not mean the whole island, but one district (Wasbister in particular). At one time this year it was believed that something was to be done. The Moderator of the Deacons' Court, knowing that the people were very dissatisfied, and hearing complaints from every quarter, met with some deacons and elders residing in the district in order to discover the real state of matters, and to make known the same to the teacher. After consultation, all parties agreed that the teacher should remain until Martinmas, and then leave; but matters continue as they were, and the people being thus deceived, are more dissatisfied than ever. I believe that one member of the Deacons’ Court is responsible for all, but I still hope to see him exercising his power (which in this case is little other than despotic) in the interests of education.

                                                                        - l am, &c.         F.

Wasbister, Rousay, 22d Oct. 1870.


1870 November 9 Orkney Herald


EDUCATION IN ROUSAY – Free Church of Rousay, 31st October 1870


At a full meeting of the Deacons’ Court – there being twelve members present – held in the above place, the following minute was unanimously adopted:-


“The attention of the Deacons’ Court was called to a letter which had appeared in one of the local newspapers (The Orkney Herald) of date 26th, animadverting strongly on the state of education in the district of Wasbister, and reflecting in somewhat bitter terms on the procedure of this Court and the Moderator thereof; charging them with deceiving the people and obstructing the progress of education in the district. The author of the said letter has not seen fit to adhibit his name, whilst presuming to make serious charges against men acting in the discharge of public duty, and they cannot but regard such conduct as a violation of Christian charity. They have all along in their official capacity as the local guardians of Education in Wasbister, endeavoured by every means in their power to promote the interests thereof intrusted to their care by their church, to whose constituted Superior Courts they are responsible for the due discharge of their duty; and they embrace this opportunity of rebutting the charges alleged against them as being wholly destitute of foundation, except in the imagination of the writer of the letter in question. Such charges, so made, they regard as highly offensive; and such animadversions as altogether uncalled for; indicating a bitterness of spirit very unkind, and opposed to all Christian charity.


“It was known to the Court that for some time past certain parties in the district were dissatisfied, for reasons best known to themselves, with the teacher, and the Court had tried to find out the causes of the dissatisfaction, in a quiet and private way, owing to the extreme difficulty and delicacy of the case. It did not appear that there was sufficient ground to take public action, as no complaint had been lodged in due form, and as the Court had reason to believe that the people generally were satisfied with him - some of them having privately expressed their strong attachment to him, and stating that they would consider it a hardship if they should lose his services.


“The Deacons’ Court think it due to Mr Bruce to state further, that never at any time has anything been alleged - even by those who are opposed to him - detrimental to his moral character in the slightest degree; but that, on the contrary, all the people, without exception so far as known to the Court, cherish feelings of the greatest respect towards him, and regard him as a man of quiet and modest behaviour, inoffensive kind and obliging in his manner, attentive to his duties, and noted for his integrity and uprightness.


“Further, the Deacons’ Court agreed unanimously to have this minute published, with a view, if possible, to put a stop to the offensive and painful course conduct pursued by the anonymous author the letter referred to, being firmly persuaded that such communications are calculated to do great injury to morality by tending to stir up and foment strife and discord in the district.”

1870 November 23 Orkney Herald




To the Editor of the “Orkney Herald.”


SIR, - I see in your last impression an account of a meeting of our Deacons’ Court, with the minute that was unanimously adopted at said meeting.

     It would appear by the minute that the statements of my letter, which appeared in the Herald of 26th ult., are without foundation, and that the people generally are satisfied with the teacher. As a matter of fair play, I ask to be allowed to state that at the meeting referred to – which was a public one, including not only the congregation, but every one who was interested in the education of the district – there were eight individuals, or thereby, who attended from Wasbister; and of this number there was only one who was satisfied with the teacher, and, I believe, that he has no children attending the school.

     It would appear by the minute that no complaint had been lodged in due form. I would ask in what form will the Court accept a complaint? Were there not parties at the meeting in question prepared to lodge complaints, and who were refused a hearing after having been invited there to do so? Have not some of the elders lodged complaints? Why, sir, the Court refused to accept of any complaint. Concerning my letter, I defy any one to contradict any statement in it.

     Sir, it must be people who have no interest in the teacher who are so satisfied with him. With regard to the people being deceived, they were assuredly so, for they understood, and so did the office-bearers in the district, that the teacher was to leave at Martinmas, and all were not a little astonished when told that this was not to be.

     That part of the minute which has been published, and the decision arrived at, is said to run counter; but hoping to see the minutes in full in next week’s Herald, and also a correct account of the meeting that has been so much commented on in Rousay.

                                                                        I am, &c.,                       F.


[NOTE. – We have two letters on this subject, but unless the writers choose to adhibit their names to their communications, we cannot give them publicity. The decision arrived at by the meeting referred to in the foregoing letter, and published in our columns, bore simply to the decision, with some of the reasons influencing thereto; it did not profess to be a report of the proceedings. We may now say that the proper course to pursue is to lodge a complaint with the Presbytery. The columns of a newspaper, whatever these may be as regards a Parish School supported by national funds, are not the proper place in which to rectify abuses – should such exist – in the management of a Free Church School, whose managers, being accountable to the superior Courts of the Church, and these only, renders it as private as had it been the property of one individual. – Ed. O. H.]

1870 December 14 Orkney Herald




To the Editor of the “Orkney Herald.


SIR, - In the last impression of the Orkney Herald, I noticed a letter, signed “Neil P. Rose,” purporting to give an account of the meeting of the Rousay Free Church Deacons’ Court, which, as intimated, was open to everyone interested in the education of the district of Wasbister. Mr Rose states in this letter that a respectable elder of the United Presbyterian Church asked permission to make a statement. As there was no elder of the United Presbyterian Church present but myself, would you allow me space in your valuable paper to make a few observations on some of Mr Rose’s assertions. When I stood up and asked permission to make a statement, Mr Rose did not say that he was sorry it was not according to order to allow it, although this is what he would have the public to believe. The real facts are these. After the Court was constituted, the minutes of former meetings read, and the object of the present meeting stated, the Moderator said they were now prepared to hear any complaint or statement any party had to make, and sat down. He rose again, and stated that parties bringing forward a complaint against the teacher would need to be very guarded; it had to be against his moral character or his efficiency as a teacher; and after making a few other remarks, he again sat down. At this stage I stood up, and had scarcely said “Moderator,” when Mr Rose, in a very dignified tone, said, “You have no standing here. You are not a member of the Free Church. You will not be heard.” Then I was at the painful necessity of reminding him that this was in direct opposition to his statement “that the Court was prepared to hear any complaint or statement any party had to make.” I also said he was not the Court; he was only the Moderator; and it was not for him to decide whether I should get a hearing or not; let it be decided by the Court. Mr Rose then asked me if I was prepared to give in what I might have to say in writing, to which I replied that I was quite prepared. The Moderator then put it to the vote, when three members of the Court resident in the district of Wasbister voted to take in my statement, two, also, of the Sourin district voted to receive my statement, three declined to vote, and four voted not to hear what I had to say, nor to take in a written statement.

     Now, Mr Editor, I would ask, in the name of all that is serious, Where did Mr Rose get the number of seven that he asserts in his letter voted against receiving my statement, out of a court of thirteen, he himself being included? I challenge Mr Rose to give the names of these seven men; and, if he cannot, I demand that he withdraw his assertion.

     Now, sir, Mr Rose likes to talk a great deal about what he has done for the school in Wasbister, and that the majority of families belongs to the Free Church. On this I might merely say, “Let another praise thee, and not thine own mouth;” but I can assert that the majority of children attending the school at present does not belong to Free Church families. Mr Rose, in his letter, wants the public to believe that the quarterly fees only amount to £2 in the year. This statement is clearly refuted by his own letter. He says the average attendance is thirty-five to forty. I shall take the lower number. Thirty-five at 1s. per quarter is £1 15s.; and as the school is taught for nine months in the year, the fees will amount to £5 5s., a goodly sum above that stated by Mr Rose.

     Any unprejudiced person can see at a glance what a bad effect the suppression of the truth must have on the minds of those who are unacquainted with the temporal circumstances of the people. So far as I can learn, the salary is not one bit less than when Mr Linklater taught the school, to the satisfaction of all parties. There was no noise then with Mr Rose about getting a certificated teacher, the small amount of school fees, or the driblet of stated salary. The opinion conveyed by the letter of the Free Church minister is that most of the families in Wasbister are so miserably poor that they cannot pay the small fees usually charged. So far as my knowledge goes there are no children going to the school but whose parents or masters are able to pay the fees, with the exception of one or two. Mr Rose again tries to make the public believe that all the Established Church people, and many of other denominations, are satisfied with the teacher. In answer to this, I can affirm, on the personal declaration of the parties themselves, that it is not so. The majority of the parents and guardians of children attending the school are not satisfied with the teacher, and it was the general belief in the district that he was to leave at Martinmas last.

     As to the compliment Mr Rose pays me of being a respected elder of the United Presbyterian Church, his opinion of myself weighs very little in my estimation, and I throw it overboard as a piece of mere flattery. The praises bestowed on my departed father, and the blandishments heaped on my uncle, may sound very sweetly in the ears of some; but let them be read alongside a plain, unvarnished account of the treatment their sons received that day at the public meeting in the Free Church, and the worth of such glowing compliments will be very much diminished.

     My father was not an egotist, like Mr Rose, who boasts of being the largest contributor to the funds of the school; but this I can say, that he did more for the school in Wasbister than Mr Rose and all his Deacons’ Court, with the exception of one or two.

     A competent and energetic teacher would find numerous and willing supporters in the district of Wasbister, though the treatment of some of the “powers that be,” and the offensive letter of Mr Rose, have cooled the affections of many, and diminished their interests in the school while under its present management. I am sorry that I am thus compelled to write, but the justification of my own conduct in the eyes of the public demanded that I should not remain silent. Hoping you will give this a place in your first impression.

                                                    – I am, &c.,

                                                                                          JOHN GIBSON.

       Langskaill, Rousay.

       10th December 1870.

To the Editor of the “Orkney Herald.”


SIR, - The letters which have appeared in the Orkney Herald under the signature “F.” seem greatly to have annoyed the Rev. N. P. Rose; but I hope, after his deliverance of the 28th ult., that he will feel more at ease.

     He designates my last letter as “ungrammatical, unintelligible, and absurd.” This may be so. He seems, however, along with the rest of the community, to have been able to discover its true meaning; and, therefore, without entering into a controversy upon the point, I would simply ask him whether he forgot or failed to discover the grammatical blunders which appeared in that very charitable letter of his to Mr Learmonth which went the round of the papers a short time ago? I trust in future he will rectify his own mistakes before presuming to remark on mine. He speaks of the definition I gave of a public meeting of the Deacons’ Court being based on ignorance. I gave no definition farther than I referred to the “ignorant” intimation that was given from the pulpit of the Free Church on the Sunday previous to the day of meeting, an intimation which included not only the congregation but everyone who was interested in education in Wasbister. Does Mr Rose think that nobody is interested in education in Wasbister save and except Free Church people? If he can prove this, he is justified in the steps he has taken; if not, then it was “ignorance” on his part to call a meeting of the Deacons’ Court, including, as he himself admits, all parties interested, and when these parties came forward to back out like a coward, under the silly pretence – as will be afterwards shown – that he did not mean what he said. Sir, it will be clearly seen from the following statement of his office-bearers, and other intelligent people who heard the intimation, what it was:-


“Having heard Mr Rose’s intimation of a meeting of Deacons’ Court, to be held in the church on Monday the 31st October, regarding the school in Wasbister, we certify that we understood and believed that the meeting was to be public, and one at which any person interested in the school might be present and take part. If this was not intended, we cannot understand why the announcement was made in the general terms it was, everybody being invited to attend who was interested in the education of the district.


                                       (Signed)     “John Craigie, Elder.

                                                          “Hugh Craigie, Elder.

                                                          “James Inkster.

                                                          “David Gibson.

                                                          “John Inkster, Upper Cogar.”

In addition to this, I would ask Mr Rose if the respected elder of the Established Church who was present could not comprehend an intimation? Apparently he took the same view of it, and considered himself warranted thereby to attend; and I believe if he had not been included in the intimation he would not have attended. In fact, every person who heard the intimation, so far as I can learn, understood it in the same way. So much for the intimation. Now a word or two about the meeting.

     You have heard one side of the story. I crave your indulgence while I state the facts. After the meeting was constituted, and the minutes of the last meeting read and approved, the Moderator said they were now prepared to hear any statement any party had to make about their teacher, and to dispose of the same. But mark what followed. The first who rose to speak was an elder of the U. P. Church, and an interested party; but, before he got out the word Moderator, he was interrupted by the Chairman, who did not tell him, as he would have the public believe, that he was sorry it was not according to form to allow it. What he said was, “You have no standing here. You are not in connection with the Free Church, and therefore you will not be heard.” The elder in question told Mr Rose that he was not the Deacons’ Court, but their Moderator, and asked him to put it to the Court to see whether he would be heard. On being asked by the Moderator if he would lodge his complaint in writing, he answered in the affirmative; and the Court would have received it but for the Moderator, who seemed to claim two votes. I would ask Mr Rose what his reason was for not hearing this elder’s complaint, and for not allowing him to table the same in a formal way, after he had attended in terms of Mr Rose’s own intimation? The next who rose to speak was Robert Gibson, jun., this notable offender, who has caused the Moderator so much trouble by being the author, as he supposes, of these offensive letters! What did he say that was so rude and highly insulting? It amounted to a declaration that he was not there as an intruder upon the Deacons’ Court of the Free Church, but by the invitation of the minister, and he hoped the Moderator would make an apology to parties brought there through his intimation. This, however, he refused to do, on the ground that his intimation included none but Free Church people. The Moderator and Court were thus brought into collision, when after a great deal of angry discussion about the intimation, the Moderator said that, in the absence of a written intimation, he might have included other than Free Church people, but that he did not mean to do so. Thereupon, Robert Gibson, jun., told him that the public could not be accountable for his mistakes, and that it was his duty to apologise. When he was told by the Moderator that he would have to use extreme measures to put him out, he (Mr Gibson) at once said that he would not put him to the trouble, for he would walk out himself, at the same time advising the Moderator to be more careful in future in making his intimations.

     Sir, this meeting of the Deacons’ Court was a pure sham; even the description given of it by Mr Rose contradicts itself. He says he summoned all parties to appear for their interests; but see how their interests were respected. Why, sir, the majority of Free Church people were disgusted at the affair, and shocked to see their minister trying to vindicate himself at the expense of their common sense. Mr Rose admits that there were rumours of dissatisfaction with the teacher, and that the result of their private investigation was that the teacher was to leave at the end of the year. He says that there was not sufficient ground for the Deacons’ Court to proceed any farther. In this far we are agreed; for the Court and the people were satisfied with the result of the investigation, and I believe there would have been less fuss about it if Mr Rose had not assumed to himself the authority which belonged to the Court, inasmuch as he told one of his office-bearers that the teacher was not to go away, after they had decided, and he agreed to the contrary. But for this private meeting, the people were resolved to petition the Deacons’ Court for another teacher; but they soon found that the meeting was a sham, and that they were “sold” again. How very different the present state of matters from what existed formerly, when, instead of this high-handed patronage, the late respected Mr Ritchie called a meeting of the Deacons’ Court in the school, and appointed a committee of men out of the different denominations in the district to watch over the interests of education, and to report to the Deacons’ Court.

     I cannot but notice the reference that Mr Rose makes about education in Egilshay and Frotoft. I would advise him to take the beam out of his own eye, and then he may see things more clearly. The description of the two respectable young men is entirely out of place. Suffice to say that they please their employers. Is Mr Rose vain enough to imagine that the people in Egilshay and Frotoft cannot represent their own case without his interference? With regard to what he has said about the school in Wasbister, I expected nothing else. Mr Rose’s misrepresentations, and the tendency of his letter, as everyone can see at a glance, is to damage the interests of education. For instance, he quotes the school fees at £2. How absurd! Considering the number of scholars, who, with very few exceptions, are all able to pay, the fees are worth more than double that sum.

     Sir, I do not know what the worthy donors who aid us in supporting the school will think when they see the mean description given of it by Mr Rose. He says that he has done his best to promote the education of Wasbister. I believe that he stands alone in this opinion. He claims honour in connection with it. It is well that he takes it to himself, for I believe that it will be long in coming from any other quarter. With regard to the manner in which he speaks of Robert Gibson, jun., I suppose that neither he nor anyone else will think much about it when they know the quarter from which it comes.

     Apologising for occupying so much of your valuable space,


                                                                 I am, &c.,                                    F.



TEACHER (CERTIFICATED), WANTED for the FREE CHURCH SCHOOL of ROUSAY to enter upon his duties at the MAY TERM. He must be qualified to teach the Branches usually taught in the Free Church Schools, and, also, superintend the Sabbath School of Wasbister. Average attendance, 35. Emoluments, about £20. Fees, about £3, but to a suitable Teacher might be increased. There is a Dwelling House, with 1¼ Acres of Land attached.

     Applications, with Testimonials, to be lodged with the Rev. N. P. ROSE, Free Church Manse, Rousay, on or before the 14th day of January, 1871.

1870 December 21 Orkney Herald




To the Editor of the “Orkney Herald."


SIR I did not expect to be put to further trouble in connection with the above subject. It appears that two opponents have now taken the field, and there are internal marks of a presumptive kind that a third is at work pulling the wires behind - John Gibson, Langskaill, “F.” alias Robert Gibson, jun., as generally believed, and somebody present without a name. Rumour is busy as to his propria persona, and already a bird of the air has set the secret abroad. Without meaning offence, we may observe that while Mr John Gibson may have education sufficient for his position in life, the people of Rousay generally will no doubt believe him quite innocent in the composition of the letter which bears his signature, at least they will be apt to suppose he got some assistance; and as for “F.” alias Mr Robert, we have positive evidence of his powers in attempting to write English, which we may produce, if necessary, to show by way of contrast what marvellous strides in improvement he has made of late. Surely he has been at school, and no wonder though he should wish another teacher in Wasbister. What a boon if only he could secure the services of the wire-puller who has advanced him so speedily forward!

     However, in sober earnest, it is truly humbling to find men professing godliness taking pleasure in abusing their neighbours - men who should know and practice better things. Mr John Gibson is an elder in the U.P. Church, and because he chooses to disturb the office-bearers of another church, and is reasonably checked for his doing so, he grows angry and rushes to the public press in the most reckless style to pour forth invective against them, and particularly against their Moderator, acting in discharge of solemn duty. I put it to him, could anything be more senseless? Has he no regard for the office and character of a minister of the gospel who never to his knowledge did Mr Gibson any harm? I can appeal to those present at the Deacons’ Court meeting to prove that I treated him with every civility and kindness; and in my published letter purposely withheld his name as he, though out of order, was not uncivil. Why then such an ebullition of anger, and such a tirade of abuse? Such a course does not become well a ruler in the Christian Church. Had he been unreasonably provoked, his moral indignation might justly have been aroused; but even then he ought to restrain his temper, and be at least respectful towards fellow-rulers in the Church. How much calculated his conduct is to do injury to the cause of truth. Ordinary people will be shrewd enough to discern the danger of having such a ruler to deal with, in proportion as they value their own character. They may not be well versed in Church forms, but they can see who are most worthy to be entrusted with their good name - whether one who can without provocation or right reason speak and write as he has done of the Deacons’ Court, or those quiet and peaceful men who are very careful in dealing with character, and who cannot allow their teacher or any other person under their care to be injured without cause shown - and who keep to the laws and rules of their Church. Mr Robert Gibson, jun., knows to what an amount of trouble they were put in investigating a famous case against the Sabbath-School, in which he was the accuser; how they patiently waited for hours sifting evidence till he was satisfied, and, though the case broke down, he was the first to acquiesce in the decision, and declare his satisfaction. One would have thought after the dear-bought experience of that occasion he would have been more careful in future. But some men won’t learn even from experience. They seem to grow more foolish. I ought perhaps to have given a short account of the origin of the opposition to our teacher. It began, so far as I have been able to trace, with Mr Robert. The first hint that ever reached my ear was from a gentleman who is connected with him, in his confidence. It was given as “from young Robert Gibson.” This occurred some time before the case above alluded to, but I see an odd connection between them. I will not give that gentleman’s name till I see, but will reserve it meanwhile. Before that time, I never heard of any complaints. Mr Gibson’s own minister assisted the two annual examinations preceding, and declared his satisfaction with the school. Since then there have been two examinations by members of the Presbytery, who spoke in favourable terms, reported satisfactorily, and passed the usual schedule and certificate to the Committee. On no occasion was fault found, except by young Robert of Langskaill. He set himself to judge not only teacher and Deacons’ Court, but also the Presbytery, and he passed sentence that they were all wrong - all banded together in a foul plot to retard education in Rousay. Everything else - ploughing, sheep-farming, of course, house-building, &c., &c., - he saw advancing in Wasbister (always excepting education), and, as he had passed the verdict, it must be law to all the world!

     When the Deacons’ Court seemed slow in acting on his law, he called them to account, issued a proclamation in the Herald, violently accusing them for being so dilatory in their duty, and grows actually wild with anger when, being met, they decline to ruled by his imperial authority. They may allege that, being Free Churchmen, they are not under his jurisdiction; but what is it to him whether they be so or not? Must not his law be obeyed? I am not going to follow the good cousins through the mud-pool into which they have plunged themselves. I mean wait a little, till the wire-puller at present hiding behind the scene is brought out, when I have something say which may amuse and interest the people in these dark winter days, and throw some new light on that “uncharitable letter’’ spoken of; for it has, like most other things, a history of its own. If things should come out in connection with it, I will not be to blame. I have perhaps been long enough a convenient refuge, if not even a kind of sacrifice, for my excellent neighbours. When men can insult one by returning evil for good, they can hardly claim excess of charity. Before I am done with that letter, whose grammar offends learned scholars in Edinburgh and in Rousay, and which was happily buried (so I thought), the wire-puller may wish that Mr .Robert had not become a resurrectionist.

     As Mr John Gibson has been manly enough give his name, I will at once come to an issue with him and his letter; and I challenge the truth of his statements, and will bring proof. As to the vote, my statement is based on the record as taken down at the time, and since read at a regular meeting of Deacons’ Court, and unanimously approved of as correct. His allegation about the school fees is not true. He speaks at random. I got my information from the only possible source. The following will help the public decide. It corroborates the truth as given in my letter:-

“ Wasbister, Dec. 17th, 1870.


“REVEREND SIR, - l perceive that Mr John Gibson, Langskaill, in his letter of the 10th inst., would make the school fees amount to a large sum; but I beg to produce the simple facts. I give the annual amount for the last three years:- In 1868, the whole sum was £3 0s 6d; in 1869, £2 0s 6d; and in 1870, £2 18s. Average for three years, £2 13s. The lowest amount that I received since I came to this locality was in 1865, viz., £1 16s 6d. - I am, &c.,


                                                              (Signed)       “J. C. BRUCE.”


Surely the above will satisfy all concerned that the fact as given in my letter is in accordance with truth. It is not fairly quoted in John Gibson’s letter. What a noise has been made by the Messrs Gibson and friends about this matter! Quiet Free Church people have been assailed in public shops, and on the highway, and nasty insinuations thrown out against their minister on this trifling point. John Gibson could not apparently, or would not, comprehend the meaning of the expression “£2 or so.” He wished to have it £2. How like him! He has much to learn about the courtesies of literary life. We will have him sent to school when a new teacher comes.

     The above may be taken as specimens of all the other mendacious and bold assertions in his letter; and now I call on him, if he has any proper feeling, to withdraw these statements and apologise for being so rash in writing or endorsing such letter as that of the 10th inst. I abide by my letter as correct, and challenge him to contradict any of its statements. He may if he chooses, indulge in abusive invective. It will be as harmless on me as a summer shower, and may help to make the barren places green. I have no design to injure the school; very far from it. I am glad to say that it is in a most thriving condition. I believe it was never better attended. I do not know whether the majority of scholars belong to the Free Church or not, for I never thought of asking, and I never made any distinction in my visits to it.

     I am sorry that the house is not in such thorough repair as we could wish, from the want of funds. I am glad to think, however, the people are in a thriving condition; for as there will be considerable repairs needed soon, and the expenses of a new election of teacher, we will have more confidence in making an appeal for the needful. They know us too well to believe that the Deacons’ Court would neglect the school. My fear is that the clamour now raised so senselessly may do us injury. However, we shall strive to get the best possible man to fill the office of teacher. It was necessary, in advertising to be correct in stating emoluments, because we become responsible to that amount. We state simply the truth - impugn it who likes. I wish we had a much larger salary to offer, so as to induce well trained candidates to come forward. We Free Church people mortally detest that system which is said to prevail in certain quarters of promising a larger sum, and paying our public servants with a smaller. We have not as yet taken lessons on that subject, and we do not care to be initiated into its mysteries. As to “F.” alias Robert Gibson, jun. (always till he denies the fact), his remarks are unworthy of notice. Indeed it is a wonder, Mr Editor, you were not afraid of inserting them in your paper. Many doubtless beyond Rousay will be curious to get a sight of him. He is not particularly well up to writing good English, and we are wondering how he contrived to put his last production together. Was there helping hand engaged with him? We seem to see a well-known form through a thin veil at work. Possibly we are mistaken. But he seems to have a familiar look. Have we not seen that hand held out, ah! how differently! Can it be so? are we fighting with men of straw, while the real foe hides like snake in the grass? Let us wait. Truth, like murder, will out: and when the thunderbolt comes down it may sweep all before it. It is a dangerous game for persons who dwell in glass houses to throw stones.

     In closing, it may amuse the curious to observe that Mr John Gibson, in acknowledging “F’s.” father to be his uncle, unwittingly reveals the real author, and this to me tells tale that I am not likely to forget. At our next interview I may have a question to ask. Meanwhile, I leave him the fact for reflection, and as he seems to resent my calling him a respected elder, which in good faith, I could then do, I promise not to insult him on this score again. But I would like to know what to call him? Let me offer him an advice, which has the sanction of apostolic authority, and it is this - That he study henceforth to be quiet, and mind his own business. We Free Church people would be specially glad to find that he follows it, and we hope in future he will make himself better acquainted with our forms of procedure in our Church Courts ere he ventures again to befool himself, and go on a wild-goose chase as he did in coming to interrupt us. At the same time we are ready, when he withdraws his abusive letter, and makes a satisfactory apology, to hold out the olive-branch of peace, with a view to bring about harmony between two neighbouring denominations, which we regret has been rudely and foolishly broken. Our higher Church Courts will see to the vindication of our character. We feel perfectly easy on the matter. – I am &c.,


                                                                                   NEIL P. ROSE.


1870 December 28 Orkney Herald




To the Editor of the “Orkney Herald.”


Sir, - I have been not a little amused by the perusal of Mr Rose’s last letter to the Editor of the Orkney Herald. He seems to think that I have been helped in the preparation of my letter; but I beg to assure him I am the real author of the letter which bears my signature, and I must not forget to thank him for the compliment he pays me, though it may not have been intended as such.

     Mr Rose’s communication requires scarcely any reply from me; as, with the exception of the question of school fees, none of my statements are called in question. Regarding this matter, Mr Rose asserts I spoke at random; but that I did not write at random may be seen from my letter of 10th inst., in which I took Mr Rose’s lowest average of scholars, also the lowest quarterly fee, and. multiplying these together, I found it amounted to the sum stated in my letter. I of course did not know what sum Mr Bruce received until I saw his letter in last Herald, but the question is not the amount be receives; but what the school fees are worth. Mr Bruce may teach - or probably I should say attempt to do so - half the children for nothing for all I know. This does not in the least affect my statement. Mr Rose talks about a mud pool, but he would seem to have got in “deep mire where there is no standing.” He suggests that I should be sent to school when the new teacher arrives. Well, to this I shan’t object, provided Mr Rose becomes a fellow pupil, as by the time the teacher has got me to comprehend what “£2 or so” means, I hope Mr Rose will have learned what authority belongs to the moderator of a Deacons’ Court.

     Mr Rose states that I acknowledge “F.’s” father to be my uncle - how smart! “F.’s” father for aught that I know may be Mr Rose’s grandfather! I neither “ken nor care.” Mr Rose offered me a very good advice, and I took it kindly. I will not presume to advise him, but rather entreat him to study another passage, having the same apostolic authority, and henceforth “shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” - I am, &c.


                                                                                   John Gibson.

     Langskaill, Rousay, 23d Dec. 1870.





To the Editor of the "Orkney Herald.”


Sir, - The letters which appeared on the question of Education in Rousay in the Orkney Herald of the 14th inst., appears have completely finished Mr Rose, and left him no foot upon which stand. At all events, his ammunition must have run short, else he would surely have met his opponents in a more manly way than he has done. His insinuation that I had assistance in the composition of my last letter is only another specimen of the dodging to which he is prepared to stoop, if in any way he may wriggle out of - to him - an awkward fix. Finished on all hands, shouts “revenge,” and since he cannot hit your correspondent, with a cowardly side thrust lhe attempts to strike at some other gentleman, who he imagines to have, through a thin veil, seen at work writing my letter. I have now to inform him that my letters are all my own, and have been prepared without assistance from any person, and this I do that all may know that the individual, whoever he may chance to be, so wantonly attacked by Mr Rose, is quite innocent of at least this heinous sin. Having said this much, I cannot close without expressing sympathy for my opponent in his present position; not a very honourable one, certainly, for a man of his cloth to occupy, and as Mr Rose has failed to refute any of my statements, and as I suppose this controversy may now be considered ended, I again subscribe myself, yours, &c.,



     Rousay, 23d Dec. 1870.


1871 February 8 Orkney Herald


AN ECCENTRIC OX. – On the evening of Friday last an ox, landed from the Rousay packet, and which was being conveyed to a cattle shed in the vicinity of the harbour, took fright, and ran up Bridge Street. He stopped opposite the Kirkwall Hotel, which, after a short survey, he entered by the door of the Refreshment-room, passing through the whole lower flat to the front door. Here he seemed inclined to have a look at the street again, but on second thoughts proceeded up stairs to the Commercial-room, where, after marching round the table, and finding nothing suited to his tastes, he was, after sundry attempts, induced to retrace his steps. On reaching the street he at once took forcible possession of a byre in the neighbourhood, where he was at length secured and safely lodged.


1871 February 15 Orkney Herald


ROUSAY. – THE WEATHER for the past few days has been very coarse, especially on the Sabbath, when the attendance at all our churches was very small. We have had a few very rough Sabbaths this winter, such as, I believe, the oldest inhabitants do not remember the like of.


OUR fishermen have done well at the cod-fishing this winter. There is an abundance of fish when they get out to the Firth; but as the weather has been stormy of late, it has been much against the successful prosecution of the fishings.


FARMERS are beginning to get rather uneasy about their out-door work, the frost having kept the ploughing somewhat behind; but a few weeks of fine weather would put this all right again. We cannot complain, however, as some of us have been getting good prices for our cattle. There are still plenty of good young cattle for sale in the island, many of the best lots not having as yet been offered to dealers, there being plenty of keep. There will probably be a few lots tried at the next monthly market.


ELECTION OF A TEACHER. – On Friday last a meeting of the Deacons’ Court of the Free Church was held at the School of Wasbister, at which the Rev. N. P. Rose presided. A large number of heads of families and others interested in the educational institution of the district were also present by invitation. After deliberation, and in accordance with the expressed wishes of the parents present, as ascertained by a vote taken by ballot, the Court unanimously agreed to elect Mr Campbell as teacher of the school of Wasbister. The question of school fees was also considered, when it was agreed that in future these should range from 1s 6d to 3s per quarter, according to the branches of education the children might be taught; the charge as to the higher branches to be left for arrangement between the teacher and the parents.


1871 March 29 Orkney Herald


ROUSAY - MONDAY. SCHOOL EXAMINATION. - The Rev. N. P. Rose, and the Rev. D. McNeil (Holm) examined the Wasbister School on Friday last. There were also present a number of parents and others interested in the school. The children were well out, and the different classes underwent a careful examination, Mr McNeil taking the leading part. Most of the classes made a very creditable appearance, the Spelling, Geography, and English Grammar deserving special notice. A junior Latin class also merits commendation. In addition to the Bible, through the kindness of Mrs Rose, upwards of twenty other prizes were also distributed, many of them valuable.


THE COMMUNION was dispensed in the Free Church on Sunday, Mr Rose being assisted by Mr McNeil, who, in addition to assisting in Rousay, also preached in Egilshay on Thursday evening.


1871 April 26 Orkney Herald


A Most Extraordinary Soiree! - The following remarkable announcement, in the form of a hand-bill, was circulated a short time ago:— “Soiree. A Fruit Soiree will be held in the Free Church, Rousay, on Wednesday the 19th inst. The Musical Programme will be one of exquisite beauty and grandeur, most of the pieces being selections from Handel’s ‘Messiah,’ Mendelssohn’s ‘St Paul,’ and the ‘Carmina Sacra.’ The Hallelujah Chorus from ‘Messiah’ is one of those stupendous works of art which seems to stand alone from all other things. There is nothing like it in the whole range Music. It is the very perfection of art. ‘We have never listened to it,’ says one, ‘without feeling as if we heard a great voice from heaven.’ Grand as the Chorus is, it never was, so far as we know, ever before performed in Orkney. All the pieces will be richly accompanied by the Harmonium, at which Mrs -------- will preside. Two young Children will sing some Sacred Songs. Mr Leonard, accompanied by Mr Grieve, will sing the beautiful Solo ‘The trumpet shall sound.’ Mr Leonard will also sing alone the prophetic tenor ‘Comfort ye my people,’ which leads into the Recitative, ‘The voice of him that crieth,’ followed the beautiful air ‘Every valley shall be exalted.’ A number of clergymen are expected to be present and deliver Addresses.”


1871 September 6 Orkney Herald


ROUSAY. - Wasbister Free Church School. This school, at present under the care of Mr Wm. M. Craigie, interim teacher, was examined on the 21st July last, by Andrew E. Scougal, Esq., Her Majesty’s Inspector of Schools. The following is his report just come to hand:- “My visit this year was the first inspection of this school. The general condition of the school, as regards both discipline and instruction, does credit to its present young but highly intelligent and painstaking teacher. Arithmetic is decidedly the weakest point; geography and grammar of the highest class very creditable; and one boy did remarkably well in Latin (Virgil’s AEneid, Book1.) and Greek (Zenophon’s Anabasis, Book 1.); religious instruction good. The managers are to build offices immediately, to ceil and floor the schoolroom with wood, and to alter the present absurdly high desks. Parallel desks should be substituted if possible. Proper registers should be provided.”


1872 October 17 John o’ Groat Journal


ROUSAY - MIRACULOUS ESCAPE OF TWO BOYS. – On Thursday evening, the 3rd inst., two boys left home with the intention of fishing for sillocks off shore on the east side of Rousay. They were to be accompanied by a neighbour, who, however, did not go with them. The boys, about twelve years of age, managed to get a small boat, about eight feet of keel, which they launched, and a short distance from shore dropped anchor, and began fish. No fears were entertained for their safety (as it was supposed a competent person was along with them), until the usual time passed by without their return. The parents becoming alarmed ran to the shore, about a mile from their dwelling, in the hope of finding they had landed, but, to their unspeakable horror, neither boys nor boat were to be seen. It was now about 10p.m., and the wind was blowing fearfully. They concluded therefore that the boat had been driven out to sea. The neighbours were apprised, and an effort made to raise a crew, but before a sufficient number had been collected the storm became so severe that the boldest seaman considered that a boat could not sit on the water. All hope of the safety of the boys was nearly given up. There was, however, a faint possibility that they had been blown on to the adjoining island of Egilshay; but as there was a roost to cross, this hope was almost abandoned. It was now about one o’clock a.m., and the fury of the tempest was most dreadful. The men stood there ready to push off, but it was thought impossible a boat could live. At length, however, six noble-hearted fellows, whose names are worthy to be mentioned - Messrs George and Wm. Reid, Wasdale; Malcolm Leonard, Gripps; James Grieve, Outerdikes; James Inkster, Quoys; and Alexander Grieve, Lowermill - at the risk of their lives, manned the skiff ‘Flying Mist,’ and put off, the sea at the time drifting like snow around them. Manfully, however, did they pull, cheering one another as they went. Before leaving it was arranged that if they reached the opposite island two fires would be lighted if they found the boys, and if not, only one. All eyes were now strained for the life or death sign. To the unspeakable joy of all present the life sign appeared. Word was immediately despatched to the parents, who knew nothing about this arrangement, that their boys were alive. So overwhelmed were they with the unexpected news that they wept aloud, and gave thanks to God for his merciful preservation of their loved ones; and well they might, for when the dangers through which they passed is known, no one can fail to see the hand of Providence in plainly guiding their tiny craft, as if it had been seen with the natural eye. About dark the boys tried to pull in their stone and make for the shore, but some how or other, one of their oars slipped from them and could not be reached, they again dropped their anchor, thinking it might hold on as before, but the water was now deeper, the wind blowing stronger. Away they drifted, no one to counsel them, and they did not know what to do. They both sat down and cried with fear. In this manner they were driven by the storm and dragged by opposite tides first one way and then another for upwards of six hours, dragging their anchor all the time, which from cold and fear they were unable to take in, and on this, doubtless, their preservation depended, for had the stone been got in in all probability, the boat would have capsized. Again, if it had been ebb tide, they were certain to have been carried out of the Firth. When more than half way across the sound, on a shallow bank, their anchor took hold unknown to the boys, who still thought in the darkness, they were drifting along, and long did they sit expecting to come to land, but no land appeared, the sea was not fast filling their little boat. In this precarious condition, they both lay down and cried to God to save them, and he did save them, for it came into the mind of one of the boys, the other being in a kind of deep sleep. To cut the rope, which he did, and in a few minutes they were driven on the shore, where, had they come an hour before, they must have perished; but the dangerous reef was flown over so that they got nearer to the shore and through the breakers managed to crawl up the banks scarcely able to walk to the nearest house, viz., that Mr John Mackinlay, Merchant. where every attention was paid to their necessities until next day, when they were taken over to Rousay.


1874  January 17 The Scotsman


FISHCURERS. – In consequence of the deaths of Messrs Jamieson & Methuen, Fishcurers of Herring are wanted for the Station of Stronsay, Orkney. Number of Boats disengaged about 60. For further particulars apply to Mr William Stevenson, Hurtiso, Rousay, Orkney.