The ruins of the original buildings of Furse, photographed by Tommy Gibson in 1994

Furse, was a farm in Wasbister, so named due to its proximity to a ‘force’ or waterfall. The earliest known tenant was James Wishart, his son William on record as being born there c. 1713.

The ruins of old Furse – and the Force, or falls, below

In 1841 Hugh Marwick farmed the land and paid an annual rent of £18.0.0. He was the son of David and Janet Marwick who lived at ‘Force, Wasbyster’ before him, and he was born on May 15th 1802. He married Katherine Craigie of Claybank in 1826, and they had six children; Margaret, born on December 23rd 1826, Mary, on July 3rd 1831, James, on November 14th 1833, David, on August 13th 1836, William, on November 24th 1839, and John, born on December 1st 1842.

Tommy Gibson’s 1994 photo of Furse, showing the new farmhouse
built in the late 1800s

The size of the farm built up over the years and by 1871, 69-year-old Hugh had 40 acres to cope with, the rent by this time having risen to £20 14s 0d. His wife Katherine died in 1864 at the age of 62, and by this time son William was employed as a farm servant at Furse.

Hugh retired and his unmarried daughter Mary, who was then in her 49th year, acted as housekeeper, her 41-year-old brother William running the 80-acre farm at Furse. In 1868 he married Janet Craigie, daughter of Henry and Jane Craigie of Greystane, who was born at Mid Quandale on December 13th 1847. Between 1869 and 1891 they had 12 children, six boys and six girls; Jane was born on February 24th 1869; Mary Catherine Craigie on June 15th 1871; Janet on April 7th 1873; William on May 3rd 1875; James on April 13th 1877; Margaret Ann on March 28th 1879; Elizabeth on May 17th 1881; Hugh on March 31st 1883; John on May 25th 1885; Isabella on September 3rd 1887; David on September 24th 1889; and Frederick who was born on August 22nd 1891.

The photo below, courtesy of Orkney Library & Archive and dated 1875, shows William and Janet Marwick of Furse with three of their children, Mary, Jane in the foreground, and Janet on her mother’s knee.

In 1879 William paid rent of £60.0.0. (plus interest on a £300 loan), and the following year £75.0.0., which included 129 acres of grazing on the Brings and also a charge for improvements.

William’s wife Janet died in 1895 at the age of 47. At the time of the 1901 census William was a 61-year-old widower, and living up at Shalter with three of his children, Margaret Ann, Lizzie and Frederick. They later moved a short distance to Whitemeadows.

Furse at this time was occupied by the Inkster family. David Inkster was the son of William Inkster of Cogar and Mary Gibson of Langskaill, and he was born in 1862. David married Isabella Sinclair, daughter of Hugh Sinclair of Stennisgorn and Isabella Gibson of Langskaill, and she was born in January 1866. David and Isabella had a large family – three sons and eight daughters: William, Hugh, Robert, Annabella, Lydia, Margaret, Mary, Ethel, Violet, Lilla, and Minnie.

The above photos show Furse as it is today, the two-storey building dating from the late 1800’s. The location of the original farm buildings can be seen just above and to the right of the top of the ‘force’ in the image on the right.