Claybank – Tommy Gibson’s photo, taken in 1994

Claybank was the name of a house built on the west bank the burn of Vacquoy in Wasbister. The original building was built in 1633 and the first recorded tenant was James Brand in 1733, followed by Gilbert Brand in 1739.

The ruin of Claybank, just up the burn from Vacquoy

In 1841 it was occupied by 50-year-old farmer James Craigie and his family. James was the son of William Craigie and Christian Harrold of Commode, or Cot Mowat, near Avalshay. He married Betty Marwick and they lived at Milnhouse, Sourin. They had seven children; Margaret, born on November 1st 1815 at  Milnhouse, John and William, born in 1817 and 1820 at Geordroine, Sourin, James, born in 1822 at Quoyferras, Hugh and Mary, born in 1825 and 1828 at Guidal, and Paterson, born on January 19th 1832 at Claybank.

James then married Jean Craigie, and they had two children, Robert and David, born at Claybank in 1835 and 1839.

All that remains of Claybank today

In 1861 James was farming 19 acres of land at Claybank with the assistance of his unmarried 37-year-old son James who worked as a ploughman.

Also living at Claybank was his youngest son Paterson, who at that time was a 29-year-old blacksmith. In 1858 he married Mary Craigie, the daughter of Alexander Craigie and Ann Murray, who was born on July 16th 1837 when they were living at Whoam. They had four children; James, born on February 12th 1860 but died in infancy, James Paterson, born on February 16th 1862, Robert, born on March 26th 1866, and Ann Elizabeth, born on January 5th 1879.

James Craigie died at Claybank in 1864 at the age of 75. His son James took over the 40-acre farm having married Isabella Kirkness in 1868. She was the daughter of James Kirkness and Grace Craigie of Quoyostray, who was born in 1846. They had four children; Isabella, Mary, James, and John, born between 1869 and 1876. In 1873 the extent of Claybank had increased to 56.2 acres, for which James paid an annual rent of £19, but it was about this time that the family moved to Brough at Frotoft.

Old map section showing the location of Claybank

Paterson Craigie was living at Claybank in 1881. He was the Wester blacksmith, and his wife Mary was busy looking after young Ann Elizabeth.

It was at this time Mary’s younger brother Magnus and his family moved to Claybank. Magnus married Ellen Cooper at Holm in 1879. She was the daughter of David Cooper and Douglas Craigie,  who was born on February 7th 1859 in Egilsay. When the census was carried out in 1881, they had two children, one-year-old Alexander and Maggie Ann, who was then just nine months old. Between August of that year and 1898 they had a further eleven children, four boys and seven daughters. Mansie Craigie was employed as a farm servant, but in his spare time he enjoyed his music – he was a renowned fiddler.