Banks & Finnio

If you were in Sourin in 1734, you would know Thomas Reid, for he was the man who worked the land of Banks – a large farm that still thrives to this day.

The census of 1841 records brothers Thomas and John Marwick farming the surrounding land at Banks. They were the sons of Hugh Marwick [1766-1820] and Betsy Sinclair of Scockness – two of her ‘Ten Devils’! Thomas was born in 1796, and married Ann Gibson in January 1820. She was the daughter of John Gibson, Broland, and Giles [Julia] Grieve, Hurtiso. Thomas and Ann had ten children of their own. All but two of them emigrated to New Zealand, but after Ann’s death in 1861 the others and their father joined them.

Thomas’s brother John Marwick was born in January 1803. He married Betsy Mainland, daughter of James Mainland and Christian Louttit, Cotafea, who was born in June 1806. They had no children, but adopted their nephew, James Marwick, son of John’s brother Robert.

In 1845 Chalmers Mainland was tenant and he was paying an annual rent of £50 6s. 6d. Two years later his brother William was tenant and he was paying £30 rent. William was the son of Leslie and Jean Mainland of Avelshay and was born on March 9th 1811. In 1835 he married Betsy Reid, the daughter of Peter Reid and Betsy Marwick of Cruar, and on November 1st of that year Betsy gave birth to twins, who themselves were christened William and Betsy. Between 1837 and 1850 she bore another six children; Jane, Anne, John, James, Peter, and David who was born blind.

Years ago ploughing matches were very popular In Rousay. The photo above was taken c.1908 during one of these events on the land at Banks. The Sourin mill is just visible beyond the horses to the left.

In 1862 William was paying £52 10s 0d. rent for Banks and its 50 acres of land. Three of his sons were working with him at that time; William was an agricultural labourer, John was a ploughman, and Peter was a cowherd. In 1876 the rent stood at £73 and the area of land at Banks had risen to 100 acres. When the census of 1881 was carried out son William, then 45 years of age, ran a shop at Banks, situated in the east end of the dwelling house, his occupation being described as a grocer and general merchant. His father William died in 1892 at the age of 81 and his widow Betsy went to live at Redlums, Banks having been taken over by Robert Seatter from Westray in 1894, at which time he was paying £50 rent.

The Seatter family of Banks, Sourin c1905.
Standing from the left: Sybella, Robert, John, Ellen, and Marion.
Seated: Sibla, Edward, Robert.

Robert Seatter was the son of John Seatter and Merron [Marion] Drever, and he was born at Newark, Westray, c.1854. On November 30th 1883 he married 25-year-old Sibella King [or Sibla as it was spelled on her birth and wedding certificates]. She was the daughter of Edward King and Hellen Scott of Grimbust, Westray. [Entries in census returns have her name variously spelled Sibella, Sibbla, Sybella, and even Sibbley. The house had alternative spellings too, i.e. Grindmust and Gronhast]. There were six children: John, born c.1885; Ellen, 1888; Robert, 1890; Marion, 1892; Bella,1896; and Edward, born c.1898.

The photos above show Edward Seatter, Banks, to the left with John Hourston Marwick [standing], and his brother Robert, Essaquoy later Quoys, Wasbister, and wearing his army uniform. Edward and John were both killed in WW1

Private Edward King Seatter served with the 8th/10th Gordon Highlanders during the First World War. He was killed in action near Guémappe, part of the Arras Offensive, on 21st April 1917, aged 19. He is commemorated in Bay 9, Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

Arras Offensive, April 1917: The 8th and 10th Battalions had amalgamated in 1915 and in January 1917 carried out a successful raid dressed in white to blend in with the snow. This was at the Butte de Warlencourt. In April they were part of the Arras offensive and were pinned down by heavy fire at Railway Triangle just east of the city of Arras. Eventually they battled their way through and defeated the enemy. The 4th and 5th Battalions fought alongside each other to help capture Vimy Ridge, 5 miles north of Arras, after a determined attack by the Canadians and themselves, the 4th suffering particularly badly. The 6th Battalion also suffered heavy casualties but achieved their objective at Rolincourt.

The 9th Pioneer Battalion prepared tracks and constructed great underground networks in this battle. The 1st Battalion went forward, in the lead, very rapidly on the first day and reached their target within 20 minutes. Soon after they were again the lead battalion but by the evening were prevented from reaching the enemy trenches by enfilade fire. Two days later they were in action at Guémappe where they sustained heavy casualties.

Private John Hourston Marwick, 58th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps, formerly 13092 Seaforths, was killed in action near Epéhy on 7th September 1918, aged 21.

He is commemorated on Panel 10, Vis-en-Artois Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

Born at Essaquoy, Sourin, Rousay on 30th April 1897, son of David Marwick and Ann Marwick (née Leonard).

Robbie Seatter, Banks, [centre], with Edward [Ned] Seatter, Queena, Rendall, and his brother George, Onziebust, Egilsay.
In 1910, Robbie’s sister Ellen, born in Westray in 1888, married Thomas Marwick Garson, the son of Thomas Garson and Mary Mainland of Grugar, Egilsay.

Robbie Corsie Seatter [previously mentioned, being born in 1890] was the tenant of Banks from 1922 to well into the 1960s. The roof of Banks blew off in the hurricane of 1952, which resulted in Robbie building a new house. In 1917 he married 19-year-old Lizzie Robertson Corsie, daughter of John Corsie, Brendale, and Margaret Jane Skethaway, Knarston. Robbie and Lizzie had three sons, Robert Seatter, born in 1917; John Corsie Seatter, born 1922; and Edward King Seatter, who was born in 1931.

The new house at Banks, built after the hurricane which wreaked havoc throughout Rousay and Orkney early in the morning of Tuesday January 15th 1952. To the left is the old mill, its huge waterwheel can just be seen in situ.

Above left is Lizzie Seatter with her son Robbie, born in 1917. Bella, or Sibella, Seatter born in 1896, was 34 years old when she married Andrew Moodie, a 33-year-old farmer from Muddisdale, Kirkwall, the son of James Moodie and Rachel Work. The minister at the marriage, held in the King Street Manse, was the Rev. W. G. Murray, and the witnesses were William Wood, Quarrybank, St. Ola, and Sibella’s sister Marion, who was living at Watergate, Kirkwall, at the time. Sibella and Andrew had a son, John, who was born in December 1930 – and he is pictured, above right, with his grandfather Robert, who would have been nearly 80 years of age when the photo was taken. – The photos below show young Robbie on the farm.

On January 23rd 1942 Robbie Seatter married 22-year-old Chrissie Davina Russell, Brendale, and they later moved to Elsness, Sanday. In 1950 his brother John Corsie Seatter married 18-year-old Gertrude Anna Jean Moar, daughter of David Moar and Clara Clouston, Saviskaill. They left Rousay and rented the farm of Sandside, Graemsay, in 1952.

Youngest brother Edward King Seatter [born in 1931] is pictured about to set off on a motorcycle ride with with Marjory Scott, Livaness, Shapinsay. c.1954.

Banks, and its environs, as it is today:-


In Rousay Birth Registers of 1738 and 1745, the name of this dwelling, situated on the farm of Banks, was spelled Housefinzie; in 1821 Housefinian; and in 1823 and 1830 Housefinzean. At the shore below Finyo is the Noust of Finyo – one of the best landing places along that shore, ‘naust’ in Old Norse meaning a shed or stance for boats when drawn up.

Magnus Craigie, born in 1786, lived at Finyo. He was married to Christian Craigie, daughter of Mitchell Craigie of Hullion and Rebekah Marwick, who was born in 1787. They had ten children: William, who was born in November 1811; Katherine, in March 1814; Janet, in June 1816; Barbara, in January 1819; Mary, in June 1821; Christian, in April, 1823; James, in November 1824; Margaret, in August 1827; Isabel, in November 1829; and Betty, who was born in May 1832. Their father Magnus died in 1840, at the age of 54.

Originally there were two buildings on the site of Finnio – the grassy, nettle-covered mound to the right being all that remains of the second house.

The following year, the census records the fact that Christy Craigie was earning a living as a wool spinner and living at Cruar with three of her daughters, Janet, Barbara, and Betsy. Cruar was a small croft on the south side of the Burn of Cruar, between Knarston and Avelshay.

Other spinners and weavers in Sourin included Christy Leonard, a 70-year-old hemp spinner at ‘Nether Kingly’. At Whitehall 50-year-old James Pearson worked as a hand-loom weaver, while neighbours Robert Harrold of Cruannie and Peter Leonard of Digro were wool weavers. 25-year-old Julia Mainland of Nethermill was a bonnet maker, and in unrecorded houses at Sourin were a number of straw plaiters, including Margaret and Jane Craigie, Robina and Isabella Marwick, Mary and Janet Flett, Mary Harcus, and Mary Flaws. 40-year-old Margaret Grieve was also employed as a straw plaiter at Barebraes.

In 1841 Finyo was occupied by James Grieve, a 65-year-old navy pensioner, from Egilsay. He was married to Elizabeth Davie and they had six children, all born in Egilsay. James was born in March 1916; Eleanor Bews in March 1819; Margaret in December 1821; Mary, in June 1825; Alexander, in March 1828; and William, who was born in July 1831.

Fisherman William Inkster held the tenancy of Finyo in 1851 after moving from Ervadale. The son of William Inkster and Robina Rendall, he was born in 1795, and was married to Margaret Gibson. They had seven children: Bethynia, born in April 1823; Christian, in August 1825; Ann, in August 1827; William, in October 1829; Margaret, in April 1833; James, in March 1836; and Hugh, who was born in February 1839. Living with them at the time of the census were their daughters Robina, a 28-year-old straw plaiter and Christie, then described as a pauper. Margaret died in 1855 at the age of 60, and William passed away in 1869 in his 74 year. [Hugh Inkster born in 1839 married Isabella Kirkness, Quoyostray, moved to Shetland, and raised a family. Isabella died, Hugh returned to Rousay, married his late wife’s cousin Mary Kirkness, and took over Westness Farm.]

Spelt Finno in 1861, Betsy Sinclair, a 78-year-old widowed pauper and her 45-year-old daughter Mary Turnbull, who earned a living as a seamstress, lived there – as did 27-year-old agricultural labourer John Gibson and his two-year-old son John. He was married to Lydia Craigie of Myres, but she was away from home when the census forms were filled in. John was the son of Hugh Gibson, Burness, Wasbister, and his third wife Margaret Harcus, and he was born in February 1834. His wife Lydia was the daughter of John Craigie, Hurtiso later Myres, and Mary Ann Louttit, Faraclett. They had four children: John, born in November 1858; Allan, in December 1861; Lydia, in October 1864; and Agnes, who was born in February 1868.

Finyo was unoccupied in the early 1870’s, but by 1881, 39-year-old farm servant John Mainland and his wife Martha lived there with their young sons James and John. John senior was the son of William Mainland, Avalsay, later Banks, and Betsy Reid, Cruar, and he was born in 1841. His wife Martha was the daughter of James Mainland, Avalsay, later Gorehouse, and Jean Gibson, and she was born in 1850.

Malcolm Grieve and his wife Fanny [pictured above] lived at Finyoe, as it was spelled in the census of 1901. Malcolm was the youngest of seven children born to Robert Grieve, Outerdykes, and Ann Work, and was born in 1830. On April 12th 1861 he married 21-year-old Frances Costie, known to one and all as Fanny, daughter of David Costie and Christian Mowat. She died in May 1908 at the age of 68, and Malcolm passed away in November 1914 in his 84th year after moving to Westray.

On December 12th 1912, Banks farm ploughman John Carr Adams Seatter married 25-year-old dressmaker Mary Mainland. The son of Robert Seatter and Sibella King, he was born in 1884. Mary was the daughter of John Mainland, Onzibist, Wyre, later Essaquoy, and Margaret Mainland, Cavit. The wedding ceremony took place at Swartifield, the officiating minister was Robert Henderson Abel, and the witnesses were Mary’s younger brother Robert and John’s younger sister Marion. They lived at Finnio for a while before moving to Rendall.

My thanks to Sarah and Stuart Sailor for allowing me access with my camera on their land to show Banks and Finnio as they are today.

[All black & white photos are courtesy of the Tommy Gibson Collection.]