Innister is a farm in Wasbister, now incorporating parts of older farms such as Gorn and Hammer. In 17th century records and land charters the farm is mentioned as Ingisgarth in 1606; Ingisgar in 1624, 1627, and 1631; Ingsgar in 1633, 1634, 1771; Insgar in 1814; and Inisgar in 1816.

17th century records abound with references to this as a personal surname also; Rowie (i.e. Rowland) Ingisgar alias the ‘Laird’ was an ‘outstanding’ Wasbister man, c. 1630. The present family name Inkster is undoubtedly a corruption of this name.

The Rousay Birth Register of 1834 records the birth of a daughter to James Inksater in Inisgar. In these old Rousay parish registers the present-day family name Inkster was usually spelt Inksater, and later Inksetter.

In 1841 farmer James Inksater and his family were living at Inisgar. James was the son of Thomas Inksater and Isabel Marwick of Deith and he was born on August 27th 1798. He married Betty Craigie and a daughter, Sarah, was born on August 2nd 1832.

The census of 1841 records another family living at Innister. John Mowat, born c.1791, originally lived at Breckan but later moved the short distance to Innister. He married his second wife, Katherine Inkster [b. 1785], in 1814. They had six children: Christian was born in June 1815; Thomas in December 1816; Elizabeth in June 1820; Mary in September 1822; Hugh in December 1828; and Isabella in November 1830.

Hugh was 22 years of age when he signed on with the Hudson’s Bay Company in December 1850, sailing from Stromness the following year bound for the York Factory in Manitoba. From there he crossed Canada and was employed as a labourer at Fort Vancouver , a fur trading outpost and supply depot along the Columbia River that served as the headquarters of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Columbia Department. Hugh worked there from 1852 to 1854, and was then was listed as a steward at the Vancouver depot from 1854 to 1860.

Going back to James ‘Inksater’, he married a second time. His wife was Janet Craigie and on December 5th 1834 a daughter, Mary, was born. They were to have four more children; Jane, Janet, David, and John, between 1836 and 1843.

James’ third marriage was to Elizabeth Mowat in 1844. They had three children; Margaret, born on November 17th 1844; John, on November 18th 1849; and Betsy, on March 25th 1845.

The census of 1861 gives another spelling – Inesgair. By then James was 63 years old and the size of the farmland was given as 36 acres. In 1854 James was paying rent of £22.0.0. which had risen to £25.6.0. by 1863.

Ten years later and another spelling – this time Inisgear. By this time James had retired, and his 30-year-old son David had taken over the running of  the  farm  with  his  wife, 25-year-old Ann Gillespie of Canisbay, Caithness. At this time the rent was £30.0.0. per annum.

The farm of Gorn was incorporated in 1879, as were parts of Tou, Breckan and 120 acres of Brings pasture. In 1882 David paid £85.0.0. rent, plus £15.0.0. rent charge on improvements. In 1883 the farmland of Hammer was added, and in 1889, with the inclusion of 129 acres of grazing at Brings the rent was £77.0.0. David and his family moved to Nigley, Evie and in 1894 William Learmonth from Faraclett took over the tenancy. Storms unroofed the farmhouse in 1895 and 1899, and by the time William moved to Orphir Innister comprised 62 acres arable and 146 acres of pasture land.

James Marwick, son of Robert Marwick and Isabel Mainland, was born in September 1831. He married Mary Baikie of Evie in 1856 and they had five sons; James, born in January 1857; John in April 1858; Robert in October 1862; George Ritchie, born in February 1860; and David Baikie in November 1865

George Ritchie Marwick
John Gibson Marwick

George Ritchie Marwick was christened after the Rev. George Ritchie, at whose manse his mother worked before she married. George and Betsy Gibson of Knarston had a son John Gibson Marwick, born in July 1885. John married Anna Logie Craigie, whose father was the Postmaster at Hullion, and between 1910 and 1932 they raised a family of eight sons and five daughters at Innister.

Eleven of the thirteen Marwicks: James Craigie, John Craigie, Robert Craigie, William Lyle, Sydney Sinclair, Donald Gibson, Roderick.
Jean [Mary Jane], Phebe Marshall Traill Foulis, Nettie Orr Gibson, Anna Logie.
Missing from the photo, taken in 1954, are David Gibson and Betsy.


Old map showing the location of Gorn

Gorn was known as Gore in the Rental of 1503. John Inkster, born c.1770, lived there with his wife Jean Craigie and their three sons; John, born on August 9th 1802, James, on June 12th 1804, and Robert, who was born on January 2nd 1807.

By 1841, brothers James and Robert were earning their livings as fishermen. They were both married and they and their families were all living at Gorn. In 1838 Robert married Mary Craigie, the daughter of David and Mary Ann Craigie of nearby Hammer, who was born on April 3rd 1809. They had one child, James, born in 1840.

Robert’s brother James married Margaret Inkster, daughter of Hugh Inkster and Isabel Craigie of Tou, who was born on August 10th 1805, and between 1829 and 1845 they had seven children; James, Jean, John, Margaret, another Margaret, Mary, and Hugh. They later moved to Midgarth, near Knarston, but when his father died James returned to Gorn to farm the 18½ acres of land.

The census of 1861 records the facts that James was in his 54th year, and wife Margaret was 53. Daughter Jane was a dressmaker, and 24-year-old son John was a seaman in the Merchant Service. The annual rent for Gorn at this time was £17 15s 0d

James died in 1874, and his widow Margaret moved to Hammer, where her son Hugh lived with his family, and Gorn’s 21.4 acres were added to the farm land of Innister.