Grain was a small croft on the roadside just beyond the entrance to Wasbister from Quandale. John Leonard lived there in the late 1700’s, and in 1802 he married Isabella Inkster, daughter of William Inkster and Mary Bichan. They had four children; John, born in 1802, Mary, in 1810, James, in 1812, and George, in 1816.
In 1841 son James was head of the household at Grain. He was a fisherman and later a seaman in the Merchant Service. He married Cecilia Inkster, daughter of Hugh Inkster and Isabella Craigie of Tou, who was born on October 24th 1810, and between 1842 and 1855 they had six children; John, Ann, Mary, Margaret, Sarah and James.
When the census of 1851 was carried out James was away at sea. Cecilia was occupied with a young family of five children, though she had the company of her widowed mother Isabella, then a 74-year-old pauper, and her widowed mother-in-law, also named Isabella, and also a 74-year-old pauper.
The Leonards later moved a short distance down the road to Quoygray, and by 1871 Grain was occupied by the Kirkness family. James Kirkness, a stonemason, was the son of John Kirkness and Barbara Craigie of Pliverha’, later Quoyostray, and he was born on October 9th 1820. In 1842, he married Grace Craigie, daughter of Hugh and Isabel Craigie of nearby Deithe, who was born on April 20th 1820 at Mid Quandale. They had five children; James, born in 1843, Isabella in 1846, Janet in 1849, Mary in the following year 1850, and John in 1857.
In 1873 the extent of the land at Grain covered 10.9 acres, for which James paid an annual rent of £2.
Like his father, John, born in 1857, was a stonemason. He married Isabella Anne Mainland, daughter of James Mainland and Jean Gibson of Gorehouse, who was born on September 4th 1859. They had two children, John and Mary. John senior built a new house at Grain but died shortly afterwards in 1884.
In 1885 his widow Isabella married crofter/fisherman Hugh Marwick, and they lived at Grain, where they raised a family of five children. Hugh was the son of Hugh Marwick and Mary Inkster of Quoys in Wester, later Whitemeadows, who was born on November 20th 1864. Isabella and Hugh had five children; Hugh, born on August 19th 1886; Sarah Ann, on March 4th 1890; Ida, on June 4th 1894; Thomas, on March 8th 1896; and James Gibson, born on October 28th 1899.
In 1885 Isabella paid £2 10s. rent and £13 7s. was spent on improvements to the property. In 1888 the annual rent on Grain was reduced to £2 by the Crofters Commission, and you’ll see from the document below that rent was the same in 1906 – one pound sterling for a half-year.
[courtesy of the Tommy Gibson Collection]