Breek, Burrian, & Brough

In Frotoft, the houses were known by both name and number – Breek was No.1; Burrian, No.2; Brough, No.3; Cott, No.4; Langstane, No.5; the first recorded occupant of Cot-a-Fea, No.6, was John Craigie in 1794; Gripps, No.7, was built in 1846; and an old parochial register informs us that Tratland, No.8, was occupied by Rolland Marwick and William Lerro in 1738.

BREEK was the name of an old house in Quandale, north of Tofts, and in the early 1800’s it was occupied by George Flaws and his wife Margaret Low. George was born about 1785 and Margaret was born in 1782. They had four children; Margaret, Janet, George, and Jane, all of whom were born at Breek between 1817 and 1825. They lived at Deal for a while before being evicted from Quandale in 1845. By 1846 a small croft and house, also named Breek, was built in Frotoft and occupied by the Flaws family, the annual rent being fixed at £4 10s. 0d.

The census of 1851 records the fact that 27-year-old son George was head of the household, and at that time he was earning a living as a blacksmith and farmer. Living with him was his father George, then 66 years of age, his mother Margaret, in her 69th year, and his 24-year-old sister Jane, who was employed in the house.

George worked in the smiddy for many years, and though retired by 1881 he still lived at Breek. At this time joint-tenant James Johnston and his family also lived there. At this time the rent was £7 0s. 0d. per annum, but was reduced to £5 in 1893.

James, an agricultural labourer, was the son of John Johnston and Elizabeth Reid of the Brinian, and was born in 1839. He married Ann Craigie of Hullion and they had two children, James and Isabella. He then married Bell Corsie, the daughter of Alexander Corsie and Ann Sinclair of Cruseday, who was born in 1850. They had three children; Alexander, William and Aggie.

John Marwick was a later occupant of No. 1. He was the son of William Marwick and Sarah Leonard of Quoygray, and he married the aforementioned Aggie Johnston. They had three children, John, born in November 1913; James, who was born in November 1914; and Hugh, also a November baby, born a year later in 1915.

Breek group: Aggie Marwick, Jock o’ Cott, Ella Johnston-Flett, Jock Marwick,
Janet Johnston-Liddle, Kenneth Flett, Bell Johnston, Annie Craigie,
Edith Maclean, Isobel Flett-Johnston, Isabella Johnston. C1920
Jock Marwick was a postman, and he is pictured while making a delivery at Avelsay, c1938

Burrian, Frotoft, c1890. The occupier at that time was Fanny MacKay.

BURRIAN, also known as No. 2 Frotoft, was where joiner William Mainland and his wife Isabella lived in 1841. William, son of William Mainland and Alison Rendall of Testaquoy, Wyre, was born in 1813. They lived at Burrian for many years, originally paying £4.10.0. rent in 1846 and £6.15.0. in 1879.

Burrian is situated between two other crofts, Breek and Brough. 34-year-old crofter/fisherman David Johnston was the son of John Johnston and Elizabeth Reid of Brinian. In 1891 he lived at Burrian with his wife Fanny Mackay of Thurso and niece Eliza Reid, a 13-year-old scholar. In 1894 David paid £6.0.0. rent. In an old estate account book the laird, General Frederick William Traill-Burroughs wrote, “He may have become a crofter but decided to be dishonest!”

Later occupants were James Alexander and Sarah Ann Marwick. Sarah Ann was the second of ten children born to Hugh Marwick, Whitemeadows, and Mary Inkster, Innister. She was born in April 1862, and had a son James Smith Marwick, born in 1885 – always known as James Smith. Sarah married James Alexander, son of Magnus Alexander, Cairn, and Margaret Inkster, Deithe, and he was born in 1854.

James Smith, c1910
James Alexander & Sarah Marwick, c1930

Sarah Ann’s son James Smith married Catherine Foulis of Deerness in 1907. They had three children, James, William, and Sarah. Sarah married Neil Flaws, son of Magnus Flaws and Williamina McKenzie of Halbreck, Wyre, but she died in 1942 aged just 26.

Brough, Frotoft. c1930

BROUGH, the farm on the Westside of Rousay, was the famous old homestead of the Craigie family. From 1823 it was occupied by Magnus Craigie, and the census carried out in Rousay in 1841 tells us that Magnus was then a 40-year-old farmer, his wife Mary was 35 years of age, oldest daughter Janet was 20 and employed as a servant, and younger daughter Mary was 13 years old.

Moving along from Burrian in Frotoft we come to No. 3, and when the census of 1851 was carried out on March 31, it was occupied by 38-year-old widowed farmer James Smith and his two young children, seven-year-old George, and John, who was three at that time.

By 1861 Magnus and Mary Craigie had moved from Brough on the Westside to Frotoft and they took the name with them, the census revealing their occupancy of ‘Section 3’. Magnus was in his 63rd year by that time, and he was farming five acres of land there. His wife Mary was then 56 years of age.

Later occupants of Brough were James Craigie and his wife Isabella Kirkness. James was the son of James Craigie and his first wife Betty Marwick, and he was born in August 1822 at Quoyferras [Faro], the family later moving to Wasbister, when James senior married Jean Craigie of Claybank.

In 1868 James junior married 22-year-old Isabella Kirkness, daughter of James Kirkness, Quoyostray, later Grain, and Grace Craigie, Deithe. Their four children were Isabella, born in July 1869; Mary Kirkness, born in June 1871; James, born in February 1873; and John Kirkness, who was born on August 1st 1876.

Jim Craigie and his sister Isie. She married Fred Inkster and they lived at Greenfield

The 1911 census reveals Brough being occupied by John Gibson and family. John was the son of David Gibson, latterly Hullion, and Ann Sinclair, Newhouse, and he was born in 1876. In 1901 he married 33-year-old Margaret Craigie, daughter of Hugh Craigie, Turbitail, and Ann Gibson, Langskaill, and he earned a living as a fisherman. They had a son David, born in 1906, also a fisherman, and he was married to Mary Jane Donaldson, second of nine children of Alexander Donaldson, Vacquoy, and Margaret Jessie Inkster, Woo.

John Gibson of Broch and Bill Spence, Evie – below Yorville c1925

John and Margaret had moved into Brough in 1906, along with Margaret’s mother Ann following the death of her husband Hugh at Turbitail. Apparently they had hoped to rent Corse, but the tenants of Brough got the Corse tenancy and so they were offered Brough instead. They rented it until the estate was sold off in 1922 when they paid £125 for it.

David Gibson aboard the Ceska, c1924
…and wife Maggie outside the house, c1930.
Another photo of David aboard the Ceska, c1968
Brough, photographed in 1994

[All photos from the Tommy Gibson Collection]