Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant, a cottage built high up on a ledge of Sinclair’s Hill above Frotoft, was occupied by two families in 1871. 55-year-old widow Janet Inkster lived there with her sons William (21) and John (19) who were sailors, and James (14) who was a scholar. Janet married William Craigie of Fa’doon in 1839 and between then and 1861 they had eight children. Janet’s eldest daughter Margaret also lived at Mount Pleasant. She was 31-years-of-age and married to John Corsie of Breek, who was also a sailor. Margaret had given birth to a baby daughter, Mary Ann, just three days before the census was carried out in 1871.

Ten years later Janet Inkster’s eldest son William and his family were the only occupants of Mount Pleasant. William, born on May 1st 1849, married Elizabeth Baikie of Cloke, Birsay in 1872. Their first child was Elizabeth Baikie, born on February 9th 1873. Thomas William was born on October 27th 1876 but he died at the tender age of just three years. William was born on July 13th 1880 and another Thomas, Thomas Baikie, was born on October 2nd 1882.

The Inkster family left the island and Mount Pleasant was then occupied by James Grieve, a 65-year-old retired seaman and cottar, and his wife Mary Mainland of Banks in Sourin. While staying at his brother’s house of Outerdykes in Sourin James gave evidence against the laird, General Burroughs, at a hearing of The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Condition of Crofters and Cottars in the Highlands and Islands, which was held in Stromness in July 1883. For doing so the laird evicted him from Outerdykes, but James was able to move into Mount Pleasant on land outwith Burroughs’ control.

The following is a paragraph from a letter written by Burroughs to the editors of The Scotsman and Orkney Herald newspapers in reply to their stories regarding the evictions of the Rousay Crofters:-

“……..James Grieve, too, is not my tenant. He returned a few years ago from the colonies [Australia], boasting of having made money, and that he was looking out for a farm. He came to visit his brother, who is tenant of Outerdykes in the district of Sourin, Rousay. He married a housemaid who had been some years in my house, and out of kindness to her her husband was permitted to squat for a time on his brother’s farm to enable him to look out for a farm for himself. Years have passed, farms in various parts of this county have been advertised to be let, but James Grieve is still here. He joined the Free Church minister in his attack upon me, and said he agreed in his evil opinion of me; that my tenants were “in a condition generally of great and increasing poverty;” that they were ground down and oppressed, and generally most miserable. I have no wish that any of my tenants should be miserable, and not being desirous of being a party to James Grieve’s misery, I decline to accept him as a tenant……”

James passed away on August 4th 1897, closely followed by his wife Mary on June 4th 1899. They were interred in the Scockness kirkyard

The 1901 census, carried out on April 6th of that year, reveals Mount Pleasant being occupied by 83-year-old retired boat builder John Mainland and his wife Lydia, then 72 years of age. John was the son of David Mainland of Tratland, and his second wife Marion Mainland of Cotafea, and he was born on March 1st 1819. His wife Lydia was the daughter of John Mowat and Isabel Yorston of Scowan [a small croft below Midgar, part of Knarston, Sourin], and she was born on March 30th 1829.

Under the same roof was their 34-year-old daughter Betsy Craigie Mainland, a dressmaker, and her husband John, a 37-year-old seaman. At that time they had two sons, George William (3) and John, who was just twelve months old. Betsy was one of nine children, and she was born on February 16th 1867. Husband John was the son of John Mainland of Cotafea and Mary Reid of Wasdale, and was born on March 5th 1864. John was captain of the Orkney Steam Navigation Company vessel Fawn for some time. Built in 1869 the company acquired the ship in 1892, and she served Rousay and the North Isles until she was replaced by the Countess of Bantry in 1917.

John Mainland at the wheel – and below,
the Fawn, unloading at Trumland Pier.
[Both images courtesy of Orkney Library & Archive]

In 1911 the only occupants of Mount Pleasant were widowed fisherman William Logie, then 46 years of age, and his eight-year-old son John, having moved from Gripps, or No.7 Frotoft. William’s mother was Betty Logie, daughter of Alexander Logie and Isabel Harrold of Cott, Westside. William married Isabella Robertson, daughter of John Robertson of Banks, Frotoft, and Isabella Corsie of Nears, who was born on November 23 1871. William and Isabella, known as Isie o’ Gripps, had three children, Charles, John, and William. Sadly Isabella suffered complications during pregnancy, leading to heart failure and her demise at 2pm on February 13th 1910.

Isie o’ Gripps, later Mount Pleasant.

[Picture courtesy of the Tommy Gibson Collection]