In Print

Newsprint 1854 – 1858

1854 October 26 Inverness Courier

WESTRAY. – The harvest is now about finished with us, and we are happy to say there has been an abundant crop, especially of grain. The potatoes are partially affected with the blight, but not to such an extent as the appearance in the shows would have led us to suppose. We have had very good cod fishing in the North Isles, but poor herring fishing. The weather for some time back has been very rainy, with some intervening days of dry weather, which saved the crops. On the 1st current a fishing boat was driven ashore on the south-west side of this island, containing the dead body of a man, which was carefully taken to a house, dressed in linen, and put into a coffin. It was afterwards identified as that of a man belonging to the island of Rousay, named John Gibson, who has left a widow and eight children to lament his untimely and mysterious death. Gibson was little more than forty years of age; had rented a small farm; he had been alone at the fishing the evening before, and stopped too late, when the tide got against him. It is supposed that he pulled against the tide until he became exhausted, and fell back over the shaft of the boat where he had been pulling. The tide and wind then carried the boat to Westray. His remains were taken to Rousay by his friends for interment.

1854 December 12 The Orcadian

PACKET BOAT, SALLY JANE. – We regret to state that, on the night of the 7th instant, while the Packet Boat, Sally Jane, of Kirkwall, was lying at anchor in the Bay of Aikerness, Evie, after having loaded about 20 quarters of oats, waiting an opportunity to proceed to town, the weather became so rough as to prevent the crew (who had previously gone ashore) from returning on board. They were, therefore, compelled to remain on shore all night, and on the morning of the 8th, they were dismayed at seeing their boat driving away, before the wind, between the small islands of Weir and Egilshay, on the former of which she was afterwards found driven ashore, filled with water.

1855 January 9 The Orcadian

DREADFUL STORMS. – Orkney has been visited by very heavy gales during the past month; indeed the weather has been exceedingly unsettled during the whole season, the effects of which have been very calamitous to boats and shipping…..The Sally Jane, mentioned in our last as being driven ashore on the small island of Weir, was, by the gale of the 13th, made a total wreck.

THE FOOT-BALL. – From time immemorial the tradesmen and others of Kirkwall have been in the habit of exercising themselves at the foot-ball, on the first day of the New-Year. Of late years the ball has been thrown up at the Market Cross on that day, but in consequence of the great increase of inhabitants in the lower part of the town. the balance of power has been completely destroyed, besides, being confined to the narrow, dirty, streets, the game has lost all that is exhilarating and exercising, being merely pushed down by an overwhelming force, favoured by the inclination of the street. In these circumstances the ball was thrown up at one o’clock p.m., on the 1st instant, and within ten minutes thereafter it went down amid the cheers of the victorious “Down-the-gates!” We have always regarded this uproar on the streets as most indecorous and absurd, and we would recommend that a piece of ground be given for this holiday sport, and players absolutely prevented from disturbing the town.

1855 March 6 The Orcadian

THE WEATHER. – During the past month we have had with short intermission, copious falls of snow, accompanied by keen and severe frost, so that for the past few weeks the face of nature has been impenetrably veiled in its wintry covering. Agricultural operations have been by this means wholly impeded. During the past week, however, a rapid thaw has taken place, and we would hope that this season of almost unprecedented severity is about an end.

INFLUENZA. – This disease, so generally prevalent during the preceding month, has now, in our immediate vicinity [of Kirkwall], to a considerable extent disappeared. We understand it has also prevailed to some extent over the whole of our islands.

LOCAL MORTALITY. – The mortality of our town during the past month has been considerably above the average, and chiefly amongst the aged and infirm, upon whom the inclemency of the season has no doubt exercised a deleterious effect.

NEW REGISTRATION ACT. – We have been informed of one or two fines levied for transgression of this act since it came into operation. We would, therefore, beg leave to intimate to the public, that it is the duty of parties immediately connected with either a Birth, Death, or Marriage, to give instant notice to the parish Registrar, of the event, and that if this is overlooked or unattended to, it is the imperative duty of the appointed legal authorities to levy the penalty in terms of the act.

EMIGRATION TO AUSTRALIA. – The Colonial, Land, and Emigration Commissioners are now prepared to receive applications for passages to New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, to single females, and families in which the sons do not outnumber the daughters. Forms of application to be had, and every information given, by applying, either personally, or by letter, to J. H. Baikie, Selecting Agent for Orkney. Kirkwall, March 1, 1855.

1855 March 16 John o’ Groat Journal

A GAME HORSE. – A horse, purchased by Mr Malcolm Corsie, Rousay, from a farmer in Egilshay, was brought over to Rousay, but, disliking his new quarters, started again to cross for Egilshay, with an east wind and ebb tide which forced him to go ashore on the island of Weir, where he got supper. The night, we may remark, was piercing cold, and the passage both difficult and dangerous

1855 April 7 The Orcadian

THE CATHEDRAL. – During the past week, workmen have been engaged upon our venerable Cathedral, repairing the injuries it had sustained during the winter gales.

CAPTAIN BURROUGHS OF THE 93rd HIGHLANDERS. – This young gentleman, the proprietor of the neighbouring island of Rousay, has, we are sorry to learn, been some time at Scutari [hospital near Constantinople], suffering under a severe ague fever. Since he landed with his regiment in the Crimea, he has been promoted from the grade of ensign to the above rank.

Sibella Gorie, Helen Craigie, and Marjory Ferguson, residenters here, are all three in Kirkwall jail, for theft; and if the authorities would keep them there it would be a good thing for the public, as they have been a great curse to the place for a long time.

1855 May 5 The Orcadian

THE WEATHER. – Now, indeed, has our summer months arrived, the expectation of which could alone have cheered us through the unprecedented severities of the past winter. Truly now we have only to open our eyes and to see it is May; and while our imagination may revert to past inclemencies, we must feel refreshed and invigorated, and our present enjoyment entranced by the delightful contrast. We need scarcely say that agricultural operations are proceeding rapidly. Since the above was written, the weather has suddenly changed for the worse.

1855 June 2 The Orcadian

We regret having occasion to complain that in some instances, the Orcadian has not been regularly delivered to the respective Agents in our Islands by the boatmen to whose care the parcels have been entrusted. The May Number, by the neglect of the boatmen, did not reach the Agent in Westray for eight or ten days after its arrival on the Island. We trust that a similar cause of complaint will not occur again.

[Rousay’s agent for the Orcadian was clothier and grocery merchant John Craigie, Hullion]

1855 August 4 The Orcadian

WHALES. – Those leviathans of the deep, who at this season of the year may be seen careering around our shores in search of their natural prey, have again visited us, and we are happy to hear that about seventy of them have been captured in the island of Sanday. Wednesday last was the sale day, when, we understand, favourable prices were received, the size being rather large, and the average price about £3 12s.

1855 October 6 The Orcadian

PUBLIC REJOICING ON THE NEWS OF THE LATE VICTORY. – On the Wednesday following the fall of Sebastopol, the news arrived in Kirkwall, via Aberdeen, by a small sloop, and slowly spread, putting all on the qui vivre for the arrival of the mail in proof of the authenticity of the report. On the mail’s arrival with the momentous intelligence, our streets at once presented an amusing yet withal a patriotic appearance. Old and young turned out – male and female, to share in the rejoicing; brilliant fire-works lighted up the whole area of Broad Street, and the old steeple of St Magnus echoed in the darkness with the merry peals of our fine toned bells.

THE HARVEST. – Great progress has been made in cutting down the grain crops during the past month, and these crops, which are generally good, are now nearly all cut. The weather has on the whole been favourable, though. occasionally dense mists and heavy showers of rain have fallen, and impeded the work of the scythe and sickle for a time. Potatoes seem to be still affected by the blight in this neighbourhood; but in some parts of the county it is stated they are generally safe.

1855 December 1 The Orcadian

WANTED. – A few more Labourers, Sloopers, and Mechanics for The Honourable Hudson’s Bay Company’s Territories in North America. Those intending to engage are requested to Take Notice that there will be no engagements in Orkney for the Service this Season, after the month of December. Apply to Edward Clouston, Stromness, 30th November, 1855.

1855 December 8 The Orcadian

THE WEATHER. – The weather during the past week has been of the most stormy character, accompanied with frequent showers of hail and snow. Winter appears now to have fairly set in, and with the change which has succeeded, there has been a considerable number of cases of sickness and colds. The post has also been prevented from crossing [the Pentland Firth], and the average number that we now receive is about one per week. This is said to be owing as much to the carelessness of those entrusted with its passage across as to the weather. The term of their engagement stops immediately on the steamer being put on for that purpose.

1855 December 29 The Orcadian

THE GALE. – We are not in a condition yet to be able to estimate all the destructive effects of the gale, which has just swept over our islands, and which was probably one of the most severe and protracted that has happened for many a day. Sheltered as we are from our situation with respect to the other islands, its ravages from this cause must be less apparent than they could have been on the east coast. From the morning of Tuesday week until Friday, the gale continued with unabated violence, but on Saturday the day cleared up, and the sky presented all the indications of fine weather. On Sabbath it commenced again, and was kept up until Thursday morning. All communication with the mainland was of course cut off, and no post was able to cross until Friday, when letters and papers were poured in upon us without mercy.

In the country districts the wind has done a little injury by blowing down some stacks of corn and other moveables, and by unroofing some of the houses. The losses by sea have not been – so far as we have yet heard – serious, although it is to be feared that much suffering may have been caused in this way…..

MARRIAGES. – We have been not a little amused at the unusual number of marriages which have had occasion during the last few weeks to chronicle, a number which appears to be still on the increase. It seems that the high price of things, and the heavy taxes imposed for the support of the [Crimean] war, are producing little effect upon the number of marriages; and if it be true, as is reported, that it is the intention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to bring in a measure in the ensuing session of parliament, enacting a special tax upon bachelors, the revenue from this source, it appears will not be greatly increased, in Orkney at least. With regard to Zetland, the matter is quite different. During the six months ending 30th September 1855, not a single marriage had taken place in the parish of Mid and South Yell, and even in one part of Orkney – in the island of Rousay – there were no marriages during the three months ending at the same time.

1856 February 9 The Orcadian

STRONSAY. – A rather uncommon circumstance has occurred here this week, which is perhaps worthy of notice. Yesterday, at Airey, the wife of William Harcus, farm servant, gave birth to three daughters! – mother and daughters all alive and doing well. Such an intimation may probably excite the sympathy and benevolence of the readers of The Orcadian; and, if the children live, the parents will need the sympathy and assistance of the public.

1856 February 16 The Orcadian

ROUSAY LECTURES. – Mr White, during last week, gave a course of lectures on the Mental and Moral aspect of the Working Classes, in the respective Schools in this island. From the masterly manner in which the subjects were handled, and the pointed appeals made by the lecturer, relative to the prevailing indifference manifested by many as to mental cultivation, and the practice of sound morals, we expect good results. Mr White at the conclusion of his lectures, shewed a variety of amusing scenes and figures, by a powerful magic lantern. Superstition was laid low by argument, as well as ocular demonstration, consisting of a number of magic feats which were explained. The houses on all occasions were crowded by respectable and attentive hearers, who seemed highly gratified by what they had heard and seen, many acknowledging that they had held ideas about the “black art” they could hold no longer. It is said Mr White intends visiting Evie and Birsay soon.

A FLOCK OF GEESE LOST. – A Flock of Nine Geese having, some time ago gone from Rousay to Weir and, after remaining sometime there, again took the water about four weeks ago, and has not since been heard of. A suitable Reward is hereby offered to any person who can give information of these Geese to Mr Peter Louttit, Number 4 [Cott, Frotoft], Rousay.

1856 March 1 The Orcadian

PROLIFIC COWS. – On the farm of Strathore, Shapinshay, possessed by Mr Fullarton, a cow has had three calves, four years in succession. Three cows, on the same farm, had twins, each alternate year, for three years, all of which came to maturity.

1856 March 8 The Orcadian

BIRTHS, DEATHS, AND MARRIAGES IN ORKNEY AND ZETLAND. – We have received a copy of the last Quarterly Return of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, published by order of the Registrar General…..Rousay and Egilshay – population 1215, births, 7, deaths, 0, marriages 1…..Registrar’s Notes:…..Rousay and Egilshay. – For the last sixteen years fewer Deaths have occurred from June to January than during the other half-year – epidemics excepted.

1856 April 12 The Orcadian

LONGEVITY. – There is at present a man living in the island of Rousay, named George Reid, 105 years of age, in the full possession of all his mental faculties, and in good health.

1856 May 10 The Orcadian

A pure Aberdeenshire Short Horn Bull, four years.
Apply to Malcolm Corsie, Nears, Rousay.

THE WEATHER. – The weather still continues cold and dry. At the beginning of the week, bleak northerly and north-easterly winds prevailed, and have occasioned numerous cases of colds, sore throats, and influenza. From all quarters we are receiving backward accounts of the state of agricultural matters, and a shower is everywhere much desiderated. Notwithstanding all this, vegetation cannot be said to be behind what it was at the corresponding period of last year, owing to the unprecedented favourable nature of the spring.

Since the above was in type a change of a very agreeable nature has taken place. Last night there were several very copious showers of rain, and the ground seems much refreshed. Farmers, we may be sure, will feel grateful for the altered appearance.

1856 May 31 The Orcadian

QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY. – Thursday last was held here as well as in other parts of the country as the anniversary of the Queen’s Birthday; and on no former occasion do we remember seeing such a display as on the present. All the shops were shut and business appeared to be entirely suspended. The day was every way propitious, and parties seized the opportunity of making pleasure excursions, – some to Stenness, and others to Shapinshay, &c. – all returning in the evening to witness the lighting of the bonfire, which took place about 8 o’clock. The vessels in the harbour and in the bay were gaily decorated with flags, and several were to be seen on the tops, and from the windows of private houses. There was also the usual firing of pieces of cannon, and the incessant roar of crackers. Our young folks paraded the streets with a band of music, and bearing flags on which were inscribed the word “Victoria.” In the evening almost the entire population of the town, as well as many strangers, assembled at Warrenfield, where the bonfire was lighted, amidst the great delight of the spectators. When the fire had nearly subsided there was the usual scramble for the “middle-tree,” which after a severe and protracted struggle – old and young joining in the meleé – was conveyed up the street, amidst the cheers of the “up-the-gates.” A game of football was afterwards held on Broad Street, and in a few minutes the ball went also up street. The amusements of the day concluded amidst a display of fireworks. We are sorry that the day was not allowed to close without accident. William Saunders, mate of the ‘Paragon,’ while in the act of plying a light to a loaded cannon, was struck by a part – the piece at the time bursting – and was severely injured. The bone of his arm, we believe, has been splintered, but he is now in a fair way of recovery.

1856 June 28 The Orcadian

We are glad to learn that Dr John Rae, a native of Orkney, who lately discovered relics of the exploring expedition under Franklin, has been found by the Admiralty entitled to the reward of £10,000 offered by them to the person who should give any information regarding the unfortunate crews. The announcement of such a reward will, we have no doubt, be gratefully received by his numerous friends in these islands.

1856 July 19 The Orcadian

WESTRAY. – A poor silly boy has been wandering about here for nearly two months, carrying with him a good silver watch, which he had received from his mother as a keepsake, and within the cases of the watch there was a note, asking parties not to take the watch from him, as he would give it to any one asking it. Last week he was found, without the watch, in the island of Rousay, having sold it to a young man, living near Pierowall, for an old vest and cap worth half-a-crown – the watch was worth two or three pounds. Shall the unscrupulous purchaser be allowed to hold his good bargain?

THE HERRING FISHING. – Our fishermen are now busily engaged in making preparations for the herring fishing, throughout all our islands. A large number of boats have been already launched, and the remainder will probably be ready during the ensuing week. We sincerely wish great death to the fin tribe.

1856 August 2 The Orcadian

SANDAY – THUNDER CLOUD. – On the 26th ult., a thunder cloud passed over these northern isles. Besides several lesser peals there were two terrific one; after the last one a quantity of very large hail fell in Lady, and also in the Calf of Eday, while, in the intervening parish of Cross and Burness, there were only a few drops of rain. Some of the hail stones were the size of sparrow eggs. Had there been wind with them, or had they fallen a month later, they could not possibly failed to have done much damage. Since then the weather has become very warm and sultry, and vegetation is making rapid progress; all the crops are looking well, indeed, far better than any one could possibly have expected only a month ago.

1856 September 6 The Orcadian

LOSS OF A HERRING BOAT. – On the morning of Tuesday 26th ult., while the herring boat Chance, belonging to Rousay, was making land she struck on Inyald Skerry, and was lost. The accident was seen from the shore, when Mr John Learmonth of Houseby, put off in a yawl and got the crew of the wrecked boat on board; but as a heavy sea was running at the time, and the yawl appearing to be in danger, the herring boat Coronation went off, and afforded the necessary assistance; the whole were got safely ashore, and were met with every necessary attention at Houseby.

[This occurred on Ingale Skerry, Stronsay]

1856 September 27 The Orcadian

Captain Burrows [sic], of the 93rd Highlanders, arrived here on Sabbath morning last by the Duke of Richmond steamer. He has greatly distinguished himself in the late Crimean campaign, during the whole of which he was present along with his gallant regiment, and for his great bravery and cool daring was promoted to be Captain, which we noticed at the time. The Laird of Rousay is to have a hearty welcome from his numerous tenantry and the inhabitants of the island, on his arrival among them, and great preparations are at present making for the occasion.

THE WEATHER. – For the past fortnight the weather has been extremely rough, – rains and high winds have told severely upon the crops and harvest operations in these islands. The westerly gales of last week have shaken a large portion of the corn crops in exposed situations, and the rains of the present week have been no less injurious in other respects. The fields, however, still promise a full average, provided the weather be such as to ripen, and allow the cutting and ingathering, although considerable diversity in the ripening of the crops is apparent in various parts of the county, for while some have been already cut in good condition, others are two or three weeks behind. Potatoes are excellent in quality, very abundant, and little appearance of disease. Yesterday the weather moderated into a fine sunny day, and now the sky has a serene aspect.

1856 October 11 The Orcadian

SHERIFF CRIMINAL COURT. – Nicol Mainland, Banks of Frotit, Rousay, was tried summarily before Sheriff Robertson, to-day (Saturday), for an assault upon James Marwick, also residing in Rousay, to the effusion of blood and severe hurt and injury of the person. The panel pled “not Guilty,” but, proof being led, the charge was fully established, and Mainland was sentenced to pay a fine of two pounds sterling, or 20 days imprisonment. The fine was paid.

1856 October 25 The Orcadian

CAPTAIN BURROUGHS OF ROLFSAY AND VEIRA. – We formerly noticed the arrival of this gentleman from the Crimea, where he had gallantly served through the whole campaign with his regiment – the 93d Highlanders. On the night of his landing at Veira Lodge, the inhabitants of Rolfsay lighted bonfires on the hill tops of the island; and on Tuesday last week, about 200 of the young people gave a soirée in his honour, which was followed by a ball and supper.

On Wednesday, Capt. Burroughs was entertained at dinner by about fifty of the principal tenants of Rolfsay and Veira. The dinner was given in the large Barn of Westness, which was tastefully fitted up for the occasion, being festooned with flowers and evergreens, and having several flags with appropriate mottos inscribed. The dinner and service would have done credit to the first hotel in the county. At the special request of the committee, Mr Traill of Woodwick occupied the chair, and Mr Scarth of Binscarth acted as croupier. After the usual loyal toasts by the chairman, he gave the Army and Navy. Capt. Burroughs returned thanks and said, –

“I rise to return thanks for the very cordial manner this toast has been responded to by you, in this remote corner of the British Isles. As a soldier, I will particularly confine my remarks to the army. It must be gratifying to every member of that army to find how enthusiastically this toast has been re-echoed, within the last few months, from every corner of Her Majesty’s dominions. It is most gratifying to us, the survivors of that army you so lately sent into the field, and with whom, in our trials, our countrymen so kindly sympathised, to find you now, on our return to our country, rejoicing with us, whenever we are to be met with, rejoicing with us over the dangers past, the difficulties surmounted, and the successful issue of our struggle.

You have asked me to recount to you some of my experiences in the Crimea. That great struggle so lately past, with which your minds were so familiarised at the time by the descriptions in the public journals, is now matter of history. One of the events, however, which has left a very lively impression on my mind, was, at that time – in the winter of 1854, when the army was at its sorest need; when there was a feeling prevalent amongst us, that we, like almost every British army sent out by this country at the commencement of a war, that we also were destined to be sacrificed. – At that time to remember that burst of sympathy and kindly feeling expressed towards us by all classes in this country, – to remember when the lists of contributors to the patriotic fund filled the newspapers, to see therein so many familiar names, the names of many persons now sitting at this table, and of others in this Island; to see that you too sympathised with us in our trials; that you, in your peaceful island homes, apart from the strife and turmoil of more populous districts, watched with interest the great struggle in which we were engaged! This, to me, I assure you, was very cheering. I believe that spontaneous burst of feeling and sympathy, from all classes in this kingdom, was almost the saving of our army in that winter.”

After some interesting details, Capt. Burroughs added, – I never remember having seen joyful news received with less of rejoicing than was the declaration of peace by the army in the Crimea. Our country, not being a great military power, that is, not having. like the continental powers of Europe, a large standing army always ready to take the field, is never able to put forth her whole strength at the commencement of a war, but our armies, unlike theirs, increase in strength and numbers the longer a war lasts. It was the knowledge of this, and not from a love of war, that we regretted the declaration of peace. May it be lasting, and fruitful of good results.

The toast of the evening – “Captain Burroughs’ health and welcome home” was then given by the chairman, and received with much enthusiasm, and when the cheering ceased Capt. Burroughs returned thanks as follows:-

“I arose before as a soldier to respond to your toast in behalf of the army. I now rise as a landlord to thank you for the kind sentiments entertained by you towards me. It must always be most gratifying to say landlord to meet, as I now do, with the expressions of sympathy, respect, and good will entertained towards him by his tenants, as it is a proof that his tenantry must be happy, contented, and prosperous. To attain so desired an end, should he the aim of every landlord. This is more particularly gratifying now to me, as but a few years ago, about the time of my late uncle, Mr Traill of Veira’s death, many of you were in great alarm at the changes be was introducing. His measures met with much opposition from you, and many of you imagined yourselves on the verge of ruin. I am glad to find that you have already lived to see that the cause of your alarm was unfounded. Everything in this world is regulated according to rule and system, and, depend upon it, no trade or profession can succeed without. I need only turn to those farmers here present whose fields are squared off, dyked, and drained, and ask them whether they have not experienced benefit from adopting what the experience of others has taught to be the most economical and productive method of husbandry. If they have been gainers by taking advantage of the experience of others, as we all know they have, all I can say to those who still continue the old unsystematic and wasteful practices, is to reform their evil ways and to go and do likewise and prosper.”

Capt. Burroughs then pointed out what he considered had been found to be the best and most profitable course of cropping for the lighter soil of Rousay, and added – “When your fields are all thus enclosed and farmed, and you have good crops of hay, turnips, and grass, you will be enabled to keep and feed good and high bred cattle, and you will find when you go to market with them that you will get good prices. And, again, when your land rests two years in grass, and you then plough it up for oats, it will give you a double crop, and take less work and manure for your grass crops afterwards. Farming and fishing can never succeed together. To succeed in anything a man must devote his whole time and attention to that one thing. A man who is jack at all trades, the old saying says is good at none. The soil of Rousay is productive, the climate, although three degrees further north than the Lothians, is really more temperate; the land abounds in stone quarries wherewith to build dykes and drains; at the sea shore you find shell sand and sea weed for manure. In fact you have everything to hand, and all you require to do is to expend labour upon the materials before you. I will afford you every assistance to improvement in my power. However, I have not the pecuniary means at command that my late uncle had, to build new houses and steadings, and to better your condition so rapidly as I could desire; all I can do is to return you a certain portion of your rents, to be devoted by you to the improvement of your farms. Capital judiciously laid out in the improvements of a farm you will always find to bring you a good return. I hope before many years are over that the roads in the island will be completed, and that you may have one or more good piers to embark your produce from. I hope also before very long to see a regular packet running between the island and Kirkwall.

And I propose that we join ourselves together and form a Rousay Agricultural Society; that we meet once a year and have a competition in live stock, and country produce, and ploughing matches. We are still behind the rest of the world, but we are striding onwards, and I hope to live to see the day when we shall be able, on more equal terms, to compete in the race of agricultural excellence with our neighbours in the south. Caithness, some 30 years ago, was not better than we are now; so our motto must be “never despair.”

In the course of the evening sundry toasts were given and speeches made, eliciting proofs of the kindly feeling which exists betwixt this gentleman and his numerous tenantry, and shewing clearly the highly intelligent interest which the latter have taken in all the events of the late war, as well as in the progress and agricultural improvement of their island and farms. This was specially to be noticed in the speeches of Mr Malcolm Corsie, in Nears, Rolfsay, and Mr John Mainland in Boo of Veira. The Rev. Mr Ritchie, the oldest minister of Rolfsay, spoke in reply to the toast of the church and the clergy, and in a very eloquent and impressive manner enforced upon himself and his reverend brothers present the necessity of setting an example of godly and consistent conduct before the people under their charge, exemplifying in their own persons, the purity and holiness of Christian life. The Rev Mr McLellan concurred with Mr Ritchie, and the latter spoke again, at some length, on the subject of the education of the young – The proprietors of Orkney,” coupled with the health of the worthy chairman, was given and received with much cheering; and’ reference was made to the very liberal encouragement given to agricultural improvement and to the advancement of the people by Mr Balfour of Balfour and others. Altogether the evening was spent in an exceedingly pleasant and instructive manner, and added another to the many links of kindly feeling and interest which already attach the tenantry of Rolfsay and Veira to their young and gallant landlord.

We understand that Captain Burroughs will soon leave Orkney to join his regiment, which is expected to be ordered for India.

1856 November 15 The Orcadian

WESTRAY. – Several of even the most respectable families on Mr Balfour of Trenabie’s property, it is stated, have been greatly annoyed for the past two months, by evil disposed persons filling up with stones, throwing all manner of filth into, and otherwise destroying the well on their lands, causing the inhabitants to go upwards of a mile for water, while nature had given them it at almost their own doors. We would almost require a policeman here, although we are good people!

1856 December 15 The Orcadian

KIRKWALL – FISH. – A very large shoal of “Cuthes” or “Cuthins” visited our Bay this week, of which our fishermen were not slow in bringing on shore a large quantity, which were sold at 1s 6d per basket, and was a very seasonable supply for the inhabitants, in the absence of our smaller friends the Sillocks, who have not condescended, as yet, to pay us a visit in any large numbers this season. We have also been very well supplied in Cod and Haddock.

1856 December 22 The Orcadian

KIRKWALL. – The only injury in the town, of which we are aware, from the violent gales of wind of the last three days, is that of the small rose window on the south transept of the cathedral of St Magnus, having been blown out…..

1856 December 29 The Orcadian

KIRKWALL – CHRISTMAS DAY. – This day was partially held as a holiday in the town, the banks and other public offices being closed. The usual game of foot-ball graced our streets on that day, but the moist atmosphere and muddy streets did not improve the general appearance of the players, which might have reminded our Tourist of a herd of Zetland ponies gambolling among the treeless forests of their native hills. The ball was successively played up and down the streets; but was finally carried to the head of the town.

1857 January 5. The Orcadian

THE NEW YEAR. – We congratulate our numerous friends and readers on the return of the Season, and most sincerely do we wish them a happy new year, and many returns.

The year 1857, was ushered in on Thursday morning by the usual noise of foolish youths parading the streets, and committing acts of mischief and destruction of property, without hindrance. The foot-ball, that ancient relic of contention, was thrown up at one o’clock, when the annual scramble for taking it up or down street commenced, and within a half-hour it went down and was finally fixed upon the topmast of one of the vessels at the Quay. There were no further disturbances on our streets during the day.

1857 March 9 The Orcadian

BIRTHS, DEATHS, AND MARRIAGES….The following are the number of Births, Deaths, and Marriages registered in Orkney for the quarter ending December 1856, as taken from the Registrar General’s returns:- …..Rousay and Egilshay – Population, 1215; Births, 13; Deaths, 4; Marriages, 3. Registrar’s Notes: Rousay and Egilshay: The births, marriages, and deaths exceed those of last quarter, for which no special reason can be assigned. The winter, since its commencement, which has been unusually severe, with snow, rain, fogs, and rarely an entire day to cheer our Orcadian Isles.

THE WEATHER. – During the greater part of the past week the weather has been exceedingly changeable and stormy, with copious falls of snow. Sabbath the 1st March, however, was a most lovely day, and we had almost thought that winter’s cold hand had been raised and given place to the balmy days of spring.

1857 April 20 The Orcadian

KIRKWALL – JURY TRIAL. – At the second diet of a Jury Court, held on Friday last, the five tinkers, named Newland, were again brought up, charged with theft by means of housebreaking to which again they all pled not guilty. Proof having been then led, the jury returned a verdict of not proven, when the five prisoners were dismissed from the bar. Mr Patton conducted the defence with his accustomed ability. It appears, however, that one of the principal witnesses in the case died before the trial came on. The property and homes of our most respectable inhabitants in rural districts, are thus again left exposed to the predatory and outrageous onslaughts of lawless wandering gipsies.

1857 May 18 The Orcadian

STROMNESS. – Of late our long line fishing boats have been very successful, large hauls of skate, some ling and cod, are daily brought ashore, and, so far as this season has gone, it has been a good lobster season. Mr Murrell our worthy townsman, sends off weekly some hundreds of lobsters for the southern markets.

Potatoes of late have sold as high as 5s. per barrel.

Small Pox has, we are glad to say, entirely disappeared. Long may they continue strangers.

1857 May 25 The Orcadian

KIRKWALL – THE QUEEN’S BIRTH-DAY. – Owing to some mismanagement in the town, the Queen’s Birth-Day was held in Kirkwall on two days, Wednesday and Thursday, – the mercantile portion of the community observing it on the former, white the mechanical portion held it on the latter. On the latter day too, the youth of the town, following the example of their predecessors, paraded the streets with a band of music at their head, and banners flying, and the usual bonfire – the climax of the proceedings on the Queen’s Birth-Day – was burnt in the evening. The usual barbarous scramble for the “middle tree” was more determined on this occasion than for many years back, almost the entire male population joining in the struggle. The burning stick was triumphantly forced down the Clay Loan (the bonfire having been held at Gallowha’) by the “up-the-gates,” at the foot of which, on the level ground, the struggle became desperate, and it was not till alter a protracted pull of forty minutes that the “stick” was fairly won, and went up the street amid the cheers of the victorious “up-the-gates.” During such a brute force contest – a relic of a barbarous age – which should have been long ago superseded by more rational amusement, it is not to be wondered at that a case or two of bodily harm occurred. We note two cases which have come to our knowledge. – A young man, named Benderman, from Thurso, sustained a blow from the end of the “stick “ falling upon his left foot occasioning a severe contusion; and John Hepburn, tinsmith, received a stone below his left eye, which cut him severely, this arose from the absurd practice of throwing stones at the “middle tree” while the fire is burning, with the view of causing it to fall. The proceedings of the day terminated with a display of fire-works.

1857 June 15 The Orcadian

POST-OFFICE. – Now that Post-offices are being located in most of our islands, we hope to hear no more of letters being conveyed by private sources to town, thereby injuring the revenue, and encouraging idleness and its attendant evils in youth, who lounge about the harbour waiting to get from boats the letters to distribute, for each of which these idlers make a charge. The practice of evading the post, in these islands where this valuable privilege is already enjoyed, ought to be frowned upon by all parties in business in town and elsewhere. That communication must be of small importance indeed which cannot afford the affixture of a penny postage stamp, and in order to illustrate our doctrine by example, we hereby intimate to our correspondents and all others, resident in these islands, privileged with a post-office, that we will not receive letters or other written communications that do not come to us pre-paid through the post-office, and we are very sure that a moment’s consideration will satisfy all parties as to the propriety and lawfulness of our resolve.

1857 July 6 The Orcadian

EVIE. – There are two sloops from Evie at the cod fishing this season, but their success up to this date has been very limited, only 3½ tons being caught by each. It is reported that one of the Rousay sloops has caught 11 tons.

[You may be thinking – ‘there’s not much news from Rousay in the columns of The Orcadian’! In the first half of 1857 there was hardly any news concerning the whole of Orkney! The paper consisted of four sides of broadsheet, the front page full of advertisements, pages two and three full of national and international news, and the back page with letters to the editor, and mainly stories concerning court proceedings, comings and goings of ships of all description, how the fishing was going, and occasional brief allusions to local matters. The quality of the newsprint was diabolical! A minute typeface and over-inking made it impossible to read in many weekly issues.

Of course, one of the reasons for lack of ‘news’ in the paper was the lack of communication between the outer islands and Kirkwall. If the weather was bad and the postboat did not run, then no mails or correspondence could be delivered.

Below are two letters to the editor of The Orcadian, published on September 21st 1857 give an insight to the problem]:

To The Editor of The Orcadian.

DEAR MAISTER EDITOR. – It’s a lang time noo fae I saw ony news fae Wastray; its tru thirs nothin’ extrordiner happenin’ jist noo, a’body bein’ i’ th’ hairst rig; bit hae ye hard thatane o’ wer ministers gat a gran’ pulpit goon last ook, fae that gud hertit gentliman Maister Stewart o’ Brugh. I tink wer minister is deservin’ o’t, for he’s been a lang time amang us, an’ doon a heap o’ gud. Bit, I maun jeest tel ye mee min’ on the subjec, that I wud liket better in the conregation hand doon it an’ Maister Stewart th’ gither; bit, tho’ the conregation haid nae pairt wi’ Maister Stewart in gain’ this gran’ presen, I hae somethin’ tae tell them thi’ cud doo. I tink sin wer minister his gat a goon, that the pupit cover wad need tae be in keepin’ wi’ the presin, it’s gettin raither auld kine; wee wad need a clock, tae. I wul speek a hantle plainer neest time, gif the conregation dinna unerstan’ me, bit I’m maist shur th’ winna need it. Maister Editer ye maun excus mee wi o’ speekin, mee skulin wis nae greet tings. I hae heaps o’ news tae sen ye, hoo tings ar’ doon in Wastray, hoo wer post is keepit, and hoo a’ ting is keepit in wer Ile. Bit I maun hae dun eenoo, an’ am, Maister Editer, yer affictionit,


Wastray, Sept 7, 1857.


To the Editor of The Orcadian

MR EDITOR, – We’re in a sad puker here aboot our meelbot. Its nou Saterdey night, an’ she’s no yet come. Am feard she’s mist her way in the mist, and may be lost in Simbro roast. Will ye speer at the pstmaister whan she cam to the toon, and whan she left it; an ken patickularly what he’s sayan aboot it. – Am yer servant,


North-shor, Wastry, September 12th, 1857.

1857 September 28 The Orcadian

THE WRECK REGISTER AND CHART FOR 1856. – By the wreck register it appears that the total number of wrecks on the British coast in 1856 was 837; collisions, 316; lives lost, 521. From Dungeness to Pentland Firth the number was 506; among the Orkney Islands, &c., 38. The journal of the Lifeboat Association, noticing these figures, says: – “We believe that, after this additional evidence, a proposition will be submitted to Parliament, in the early part of next session, to build a harbour of refuge on the north-east coast of Scotland; another on the north-east coast of England; and a third on the west coast of England.”

1857 November 16 The Orcadian

The steamer, “Duke of Richmond,” sailed from Kirkwall on Monday night with a goodly number of passengers, six horses, about 70 cattle (of which Mr Hadden shipped 30), and an immense quantity of pork, geese, butter, eggs, and other produce.

1857 November 23 The Orcadian

The weather continues most unprecedently mild. Fields have more the appearance of May than November, and in the garden the flowers still bloom with almost summer brightness. In the garden at Balfour Castle, fruit trees have flowered and set, and gooseberries are to be found as large as pears; and in Kirkwall pear trees in blossom are to be seen, which, we fear, will soon meet with a cold reception.

1857 November 30 The Orcadian

THE WEATHER. – After an unprecedented season of fine weather, a strong gale of north-east wind, with sleet and rain, swept our shores on Monday and Tuesday last, suspending all communication with the mainland. The steamer “Duke of Richmond” was consequently detained here till Wednesday night, and the “Royal Mail” steamer did not sail from Stromness till Tuesday, returning on the following day, when the south mails arrived at Kirkwall. On Monday the packet boat “Hope,” which came to Kirkwall from Eday, was nearly driven ashore on the Ayre. Her hawser broke while entering the quay, and she struck her bowsprit against the west pier head, and drifted towards the shore. The anchor, which was thrown out however, held her on till a stout hawser was procured, when, by the excellent exertions of the bystanders on the quay, she was finally drawn into harbour, having received but trifling damage. The fine packet boat “Wave,” which arrived here from Shapinshay on Monday, returned the following day, but split her jib.

1857 December 21 The Orcadian

THE GALES. – The weather of late has been very changeable – violent gales of wind and then calms successively following each other. Several vessels have in consequence put into our safe harbours, two of which, we are sorry to say, are in a damaged state, – one of them connected with loss of life, viz.,

Put into Longhope last week the barque “Richibucta,” Calvin, of and for Aberdeen, from Quebec, having experienced a tremendous hurricane a few degrees to the westward, during which she had her decks completely swept – losing the second mate, named James Nelson, a native of Bressay, Zetland. At the same time, his brother, George Nelson, one of the seamen, got his left leg crushed in a most fearful manner. He now lies in Balfour Hospital, in a very precarious state.

Put into Rousay Sound on the 12th inst., the barque “Retriever,” of Dundee, Smith, from St Johns to Dundee, who reports, – Left St Johns, 29th October, – eight days after, in lat. 42, 50, long. 61, passed a vessel from 800, to 1000 tons, on fire, all black, and apparently a United States built vessel. Came on near the wreck as safety would allow, but saw no person on board. At this time the masts were gone, and the ship burnt to the middle deck. Saw a barque, about three miles off, hove to, and supposed her to be picking up a boat’s crew. On 18th Nov., in 32 W, and 50 N, experienced a hurricane from N.N.W. Lost foremast by the decks bowsprit, and part bulwarks; and in securing the mainmast, a seaman named Thomas Morgan Charles, a Maltese, fell from the mainyard on deck, and was seriously damaged, – is now in Balfour Hospital, Kirkwall. On 5th Dec., in lat. 56.50, long.12.49, experienced another hurricane from W.S.W. Shipped a sea which stove the long-boat, swept away cook-house and coppers, and started stauncheons on the port side. Ship strained, and making a deal of water.

A large Prussian schooner, bound for a port in Ireland, with a cargo of rye, was also obliged to take refuge from the storm at Rousay, but has received no damage.

It blew a very strong gale on Wednesday afternoon, from the S.W., during which the S. Ronaldshay packet boat, while on her way home from Scapa, was obliged to run to Holm, where she fortunately rode out the gale, having a very narrow escape from being driven on the rocks, and so received little damage. In the lowering of her mast, however, we regret to add, that John Stewart, the master, had his arm injured. The “Royal Mail” steamer was also obliged to put back to Stromness, after being nearly half across [the Pentland Firth].

1858 January 4 The Orcadian

We regret to observe from the list of the killed and wounded in the relief of Lucknow by Sir Colin Campbell, which appears in our paper to-day, the name of Captain Burroughs, of the 93rd Highlanders, wounded slightly, who is an extensive proprietor in the island of Rousay.

OUR LETTER CARRIERS. – We are sure we have only to remind our friends of the faithfulness and punctuality with which these useful functionaries, our letter carriers, perform their important duties, in all weathers, to secure for this class of poorly paid public servants, a respectable Christmas box or New Year’s gift.

For the past few weeks our fishermen have been making rich rewards by plentiful draughts of sillocks, taken by sweep nets. These fishes are of great benefit to the poorer classes, as they supply them with both food and oil.

1858 January 25 The Orcadian

KIRKWALL. – A strong gale blew up from the westward on Monday night, and continued all Tuesday and Wednesday, preventing all communication with the steamer till Wednesday morning, when the wind moderated, but again increased at about 2 o’clock, when she sailed. One of the luggage boats broke off from the ship and was cast on shore, but sustained trifling damage. We regret to add that one of the men on board the steamer, named Irvine, was pushed into the hold by a cow in course of shipment, from which he received severe injury, but is expected to recover.

1858 March 8 The Orcadian

KIRKWALL. – A strong gale of wind from the north has brought a heavy snow storm upon us. Notwithstanding the rough weather, right a-head, the steamship “Duke of Richmond” steamed into our bay about 11 o’clock yesterday morning. There was no mail from the south on Saturday, but it reached here yesterday. A number of our north isles’ packets are lying wind bound in our harbour.

1858 March 15 The Orcadian

THE WEATHER &c. – The snow storm, which commenced during the close of the previous week, continued during the first four days of last week with great severity; it has now, however, blown over, and mild weather has again set in. It appears from the newspapers that the storm has been equally severe all over the country. The wreck of a large Norwegian barque upon the north coast of Sutherland is reported, by which, out of a crew of 13 men, the captain and 6 men, along with the captain’s lady and a passenger, found a watery grave, or died through want and exposure. The steamer “Duke of Richmond” left on Thursday morning about 6 o’clock. Capt. Campbell, we regret to say, was suffering under a severe attack of illness, brought on by cold and exposure, and was obliged to go ashore for medical treatment. He went south with the steamer in a weak state. The south mails arrived on Thursday, and again on Saturday; there are, therefore, no mails due, thanks to steam power on the Firth, and the persevering diligence of Captain Lyon and his intrepid crew.

1858. April 5 The Orcadian

THEFT. – Janet Alexander or Clouston, of Rousay, accused of sheep stealing, was, on Wednesday last, sentenced to eight days imprisonment.
[Janet Alexander, Breckan, was born in 1811. She married David Clouston, Moan, in 1831].

THE WEATHER. – During the week the weather has been most unfavourable for operations in our fields and gardens. Strong cold easterly and northerly winds, with rain, snow, and frost, have prevailed.

1858 April 12 The Orcadian

WARNING. – We understand that there is a person wandering through Orkney at present, pretending to fly rats from the corn yards and steadings, by dropping or scattering a certain powder upon the ground around. It is scarcely necessary to say that this is all a hoax, and we regret to add that he has already succeeded in “gulling” a few of the unsuspecting inhabitants out of their money. We hope the public will be on their guard against such low attempts to deceive by the unscrupulous and the designing.

1858 May 3 The Orcadian

ENLARGED VISION. – A boats crew from Evie, after having done their business in town on the 19th ult., considered it necessary to refresh themselves before returning home, which was all right enough if quantity and quality had also been regarded. Let the result explain. On reaching the boat, and tumbling themselves on board as they best could, the helmsman proceeded to take his place, but, not being aware that his vision had become temporarily enlarged, and believing that the helm was farther from him than it really was, he actually passed it, and, while eagerly grasping for it, tumbled over the stern. The worthy skipper received a substantial ducking, reminding him of the propriety of considering the quantity and quality of his potations on his next visit to Kirkwall. If there was a professed T.T. on board, he had certainly left his pledge behind for that day, when leaving home. All were merrier than wise.

1858 May 10 The Orcadian

on a five years’ contract, as SLOOPMASTER. A person properly
qualified will find this to be a very eligible appointment.
Satisfactory testimonials will be required as to character and
qualifications, and immediate application will be necessary.
Stromness, 4th May, 1858.

1858 May 24 The Orcadian

DEATHS. At Westness House, Rousay, on the 19th instant, William Traill, Esq., of Woodwick, aged 61 years.

[His body was interred in the Westside kirkyard, the inscription on his gravestone reading as follows: – In memory of William Traill of Woodwick born 31 Jan 1797 died 19 May 1858.  “Father I will that they also whom Thou hast given me be with me where I am.”  And Harriet Traill his wife born 19 May 1796 died 2 Mar 1841.  Also of Henrietta Moodie Traill his second wife born 18 Dec 1824 died 27 Jul 1861.]



[The editor of The Orcadian comments…] The reason why we have inserted the following lines, composed by a young Orcadian on leaving his native isles, will, we think, be apparent.


Fare thee well dear Isle of Ocean,
All ye weeping friends farewell,
Oh, who can the wild emotion
Of our parting sorrow tell:
Yet one above will safely guide,
Our passage through that swelling tide.
Tho’ we’re called from home to sever,
And to tread a foreign land;
Tho’, dear father, we for ever
Lose thy kind and guiding hand –
Parent and Guardian, staff and stay,
The Lord shall guard and guide our way.
And, dear mother, broken hearted
When thy sheltering arms we leave;
If, when far from thee departed,
Even thou should’st cease to grieve –
Still there is one who never yet
Absent or distant can forget.
Fare ye well sweet sisters nearest,
Both in kindred and in soul –
Fare ye well kind brothers dearest,
Though the sea between us roll.
Yet one there is who at our side,
Closer than brother will abide!
May God save thee Isle of Ocean!
Country of our birth farewell!
Although waves in wild commotion
High around our vessel swell –
The Lord shall keep His little band
Safe in the hollow of His hand.

1858 June 21 The Orcadian

THUNDER STORM. – We had a most severe thunder storm on Wednesday night, with torrents of rain. The lightning was almost continuous, scarcely a minute intervening between the flashes, with incessant roars of thunder. No one with whom we have conversed ever remembers so fearful a night of thunder, lightning, and rain. The thunder was heard several times during the day, but it only broke out in its fury about ten o’clock at night, and continued, peal after peal waxing louder, for two or three hours, when it passed away. Reports say that four cattle were struck dead by the lightning at Saviskaill, in Rousay, and one at the Bow of Orphir…..

A CENTENARIAN. – There is presently living in the island of Rousay, a man of the name of George Reid, a native of Westray, whose age amounts to 107 years. He has passed 67 years in Westray, and forty years in this island, is possessed of all the faculties of mind and body, and readily converses on any subject connected with his past life.

FIVE CATTLE DROWNED. – A few days ago, Mr Folsetter, postmaster, Evie, sent six fine young cattle across to the island of Eynhallow, in the Rousay Firth, to graze. A short time after the boat had returned, another boat coming from the fishing, observed to their astonishment the cattle endeavouring to make the best of their way across the Firth to their old habitation, and supposing that it was a boat upset with the crew, made immediate but of course vain search for men and boat. They then tried to save the cattle, but only succeeded in securing one, the remaining five being all drowned and their bodies washed ashore on the island of Wyre.

1858 July 19 The Orcadian

KIRKWALL – A MAN NEARLY POISONED BY WILKS. – While the fishing smack, “Dolphin,” of London, was lying at the quay, in the beginning of last week, one of the crew, named William Cassells, a native of Greenwich, ate of some of the wilks found sticking to the pier, and shortly afterwards became very unwell, and was seized with violent convulsions and vomiting, so that his life was almost despaired of. He was conveyed to Snowie’s hotel, where medical aid was called in, under which influence, we are happy to say, he gradually recovered, and went on board the vessel on Friday.

STAGE COACH BETWEEN KIRKWALL AND STROMNESS. – A large four-wheeled coach, which arrived here per steamer on the 10th inst., commenced to run between Kirkwall and Stromness on Tuesday. Considerable numbers of passengers have during the week availed themselves of this additional and much needed conveyance, and which deserves to be appreciated. The coach, which carries 14 passengers besides luggage, is run by four horses, and belongs to Mr Allan, of Culfosie, Aberdeenshire, who lately purchased a property in the parish of Stenness. The carriage has been named the “St Magnus.”

1858 July 26 The Orcadian

HERRING FISHING. – The usual preparations and bustle occasioned by the herring fishing, commenced and were carried on with great activity during the past week. Large numbers of hired hands arrived in town on Monday by the packets from the north isles, Evie, and other places, and proceeded to their respective stations, so that by this time all the boats to be engaged at the various stations in Orkney will be ready for sea, with few exceptions. Engagements of men have taken place at from £3 10s for inexperienced hands, to £6; £6 10s, and even £7, for first rate hands, with the usual rations of meal.

Several boats from Burray made a trial on Tuesday, but only succeeded in getting a few herrings each.

Some boats from Holm made a trial on Thursday night, and all got some fish; the highest being three crans*. The herrings were retailed in town on Friday at a halfpenny each.

We wish great death to the king of the sea, and success to the numerous population who are engaged in this hazardous and dangerous traffic.

[*A cran was a barrel made to hold a measure of herrings, about 37½ imperial gallons, or 750 herring on average.]

1858 August 23 The Orcadian

LAMMAS FAIR. – Our great annual market opened on Tuesday last, but its greatness, in the aspect in which it was formerly viewed, has long since passed away, and the market of the present can best be understood as a good Scotch fair, – in every other respect it is but a relic of the past. Large numbers of dealers, as well as other parties of suspected character, who arrived per steamer, were present, and numbers of our islanders came per packets on Tuesday, so that the scene on the ground was rather exciting. The Highlanders engaged at the roads, marched up to the fair with a piper at their head, and amused themselves in dancing; and the whole went off quietly, with the exception of one or two squabbles raised by the influence of drink. On the first day very little business was done, but on Wednesday the market was a pretty throng, and a moderate business was done in cattle, – horses were less in demand. Good animals brought good prices, and, on the whole, we believe averaged that of last year….. A considerable number of beasts were shipped per “Duke of Richmond” on Saturday; a schooner was laden on Friday; and the “Prince Consort” will take the remainder on Tuesday. Saturday will conclude the fortnight, when our streets will present the usual bustle of “lads and lasses” patrolling the town.

Fever and smallpox having entirely disappeared, the health of Kirkwall is all that can be desired; so much for those false and scandalous reports so industrially circulated through the islands and parishes by designing parties. 

1858 August 30 The Orcadian

HERRING FISHING. – Little or nothing has been the result of the herring fishing during the past week at all the stations in Orkney. The unfavourable state of the weather has prevented the boats from going to sea, and when an opportunity offered, the boats met with little success. A few boats have occasionally had pretty good hauls, but the average to each boat for the week does not amount to a cran. If this week does not greatly improve the prospects of the fishing, it is feared that this year’s catch will be the shortest for many years past, and in many cases will lead to distressing circumstances as regards the fishermen.

1858 September 6 The Orcadian

as also on the Island of ROUSAY, are to be strictly
preserved for the present season.
All permissions to shoot on these grounds are recalled,
and trespassers will be prosecuted.
Kirkwall, 12th August, 1858.

1858 September 13 The Orcadian

THE COMET. – This wandering stranger was seen here during the last week in about N.N.W, visible to the naked eye, but with a telescope of even small power the tail was very distinctly defined. A brief description of the comet will be found in our second page…….The following information regarding the Comet discovered by Donati may be acceptable to those who are interested in astronomical observations. A correspondent of the Courant says:- “The comet discovered by Donati is now very conspicuous between 7.30 and 10 the north-west, about from 10 degrees to 15 degrees above the horizon. A line drawn to the horizon, through the Pointers in Ursa Major, will nearly strike it, at a distance of about 25 degrees. It is easily recognised by the naked eye by its hazy appearance, but to distinguish the tail a small pocket telescope is necessary. I observe, in a two feet pocket telescope, the tail extends across about one-half the field of view. On Saturday, its position was unusually interesting, being between two small stars, and nearly in a line with them.”

[Comet Donati, or Donati’s Comet, formally designated C/1858 L1 and 1858 VI, is a long-period comet named after the Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Donati who first observed it on June 2, 1858. After the Great Comet of 1811, it was the most brilliant comet that appeared in the 19th century.]

1858 September 20 The Orcadian

EVIE. – In this parish harvest work has now become general. All agree in the opinion that a heavier crop both of bere and oats was never reaped than that which is now undergoing the operation of the scythe. The turnip crop also is considered above average. Of the potato crop, however, we cannot report so favourably. The decay in this crop has been more rapid this season than on any previous. The blight commenced its inroads a short time after the fog disappeared, and at present the fields show a very disastered appearance. All that is now required to gladden the heart of the farmer is propitious weather for securing the crops.

LOSS OF THE STROMNESS PACKET “VIVANDIERE.” – We stop the press to announce the painful intelligence of the total loss of the fine, new, clipper schooner “Vivandiere.” This vessel having left Stromness for Leith, called at South Ronaldshay, and shipped goods there, and proceeded on her voyage south, on Saturday afternoon, when she was becalmed off the Pentland Skerries, towards which a strong tidal current impelled her, as well as a heavy sea running, and in spite of every exertion to save the vessel, she struck, and became a total wreck . The passengers and crew, we learn, were saved, but with nothing but what was on their backs. We regret to add that this loss is the third Stromness packet wrecked within a comparatively short time.

1858 October 4 The Orcadian

THE LATE GALES. – During the greater part of the past week, violent gales of west and south-west winds have prevailed, with copious showers of rain, and even hail. These storms, we regret to say, have been productive of serious disasters at sea, and loss of life.

On Monday, a boat, with two men and a woman, left Stromness for the small island of Graemsay, which is just across the bay, when in coming in contact with the tide at the mouth of the Sound, and the gale increasing, she filled, going down by the stern, and all on board perished. The parties who thus met with a watery grave, were Mr Joseph Lyon, brother of Capt. Lyon, of the “Royal Mail” steamer, his sister, and a young man who had lately crossed the Atlantic, from America. This sad spectacle was observed from both shores, and the pilot boat from Stromness, as well as two boats from Graemsay, put off to the scene of the disaster, but neither could they render any assistance, nor was a vestige of the ill-fated boat found.

On Sabbath, the 26th ult., there was found at Brough of Birsay, a mast, yard, part of the sail and hull of a herring boat, and two nets apparently only one season run. The number on the sail was 1532, with Wk.

The schooner “Rose,” of Stromness, went ashore, on Lambholm, but got off with little injury.

A boat from Rousay, laden with cattle for Kirkwall, had her foresail split, and with great difficulty she got into Elwick Bay [Shapinsay] where she had to remain for the night.

The schooner “Aid,” of Kirkwall, Yorston, with coals, arrived here having her main top-mast carried away, and the top of her main mast broken.

Several of our north isles packets ran great risk of shipwreck on Monday, on their passage to Kirkwall. The Eday packet fortunately got under shelter of Ellyer Holm, and held on; and the Stronsay packet was driven back to Stronsay.

The steamer, “Prince Consort,” only arrived here from Lerwick, at about 6 o’clock evening on Tuesday, and sailed south the same evening.

Such of the crops which have not been secured, received considerable damage. but not so much as might have been expected.

1858 October 11 The Orcadian

PLUNDERING OF THE WRECK OF THE “VIVANDIERE.” – We very much regret to understand that the inhuman crime of stealing from shipwreck has not yet been altogether hounded out from our midst, and that the wreck of the Stromness packet has been plundered in this shameful manner. We are happy to know however, that the authorities have instituted a searching inquiry into the case, which, we trust, will issue in the condign punishment of those heartless scoundrels who could thus presume lawlessly and inhumanly to enrich themselves at the expense of shipwrecked sailors and passengers, whose lives and property were put in such imminent peril. But whatever the law may be enabled to do in this or such cases, we are anxious to bring a healthy moral public opinion to bear upon this most flagrant and wretched crime of barbarous times. Our ministers and people in every grade of society must hold this cruel propensity, wherever it may be suspected to linger, as one of the blackest, most wicked, and un-natural, of which any one can be possessed. The crime of stealing from shipwreck was formerly a stain upon our islanders, but we had thought that such stain had been long since and entirely removed under the sanctifying influences of the universal spread of religious knowledge among us, and that it was now only to be found in the records of a barbarous age; yet it would appear that there are still some evil disposed persons to be found lurking in some of our best informed localities and highest civilised island communities. The following is reported in the ‘John o’ Groat Journal’; –

The Late Wreck at the Pentland Skerries – Disgraceful Conduct. – Complaint is made that on the occasion of the wreck of the Leith and Stromness packet on the Pentland Skerries last week, the Stroma and South Ronaldshay men who visited the wreck did not scruple to make free with the goods and passengers’ luggage, and that to a considerable extent. Every one of the seamen complains of the loss of the best part of his clothing, and some of the passengers are similarly circumstanced, one having found his trunk open and emptied of its entire contents. “One of the Stroma men,” writes a correspondent, “told one of the crew of the ‘Vivandiere,’ that he himself pulled one or two pairs of trousers belonging to the sailors, off the legs of a South Ronaldshay man! Such,” he adds, “was no doubt the manner in which most of the seamen’s clothes and the bale goods on board were taken away, but, before impeaching their brothers for the mote in their eyes, the islanders should remove the beam in their own. It is sad to think that we have such persons among us, and I should be inclined seriously to doubt their claims to salvage. Indeed, the names of the parties being known, it is questionable if some proceedings do not follow, and punishment be inflicted for this undisguised and criminal appropriation of property.”

THE LOSS OF THE LEITH AND STROMNESS PACKET. – The following letter has been addressed to the ‘Shipping Gazette’ ; – “Sir, – Be kind enough to permit me through the medium of the Gazette, to return the warmest thanks of the captain, crew, and passengers of the clipper schooner “Vivandiere,” of Stromness, on her voyage to Leith, to Captain James Hall and crew of the brig “James Bales,” of North Shields, from Quebec for Dundee, for saving a boat’s crew of 13 persons from a watery grave in the Pentland Firth, on the night of Saturday the 18th September, and who very kindly returned with us to Longhope the following morning. – Yours very respectfully, James R. Garriock, a passenger.”

1858 November 8 The Orcadian

DEATH OF THE REV. MESSRS LEARMONTH OF STROMNESS, AND RITCHIE OF ROUSAY. – It has often been remarked in the south that since the disruption of 1843, death has been very busy in thinning the ranks of the Free Church’s disruption worthies; and within the last few days the Free Church in Orkney has been called very peculiarly to mourn such a loss. Two of her ministers, above named, both of them “faithful and beloved,” have been called away from their beloved labours on earth to meet each other, though unexpectedly, in their Father’s home. Mr Learmonth, as our readers are aware, had been an invalid ever since that day in the summer of 1852, when he was struck with paralysis, while ministering to the congregation at Birsay; and his death, not unexpected, took place at midnight on 21st October. Mr [George] Ritchie, though ailing somewhat under a renewed but less severe attack, similar to that from which he suffered in spring last, went to bed as usual on Friday evening the 22nd, and slept soundly; but about five o’clock next morning, seeming to labour under nightmare, he drew a long sigh, and was no more! The Master saw fit to subject his one servant to a long and severe discipline; the other was spared such a trial, and his death, like that of the great Chalmers, or our own beloved Dr Bremner, was a translation – a death; oh how enviable to those who are looking and watching for the second coming!

…..Mr Learmonth died in the 58th year of his age, and the 26th of his ministry; Mr Ritchie was fully a year older, and his ministry a year less. Both have left widows, and the latter three children, the eldest about 16 years of age, while with them his bereaved congregation mourns the loss of a revered and beloved minister. We doubt not the prayers of many have already seconded in their behalf to him who is the widow’s husband and the orphan’s shield, and who can give to the Rousay congregation a like-minded pastor to feed them with heavenly knowledge.

[Interred in Scockness kirkyard the Rev. Ritchie’s headstone reads as follows: “Erected to the memory of Revd George Ritchie, Minister of the Free Church, Rousay, who after a faithful ministry of 24 years finished his course on 23 Oct 1858 aged 59 years.  Erected by the young men of the congregation.”]

1858 November 22 The Orcadian

KIRKWALL. – A notice was drummed, and is placarded upon our several stages, that there is to be no playing of foot-ball upon our streets henceforth. This exhilarating exercise should always be enjoyed in a field, and we trust that parties preferring this exercise as a pastime, will take the hint.

1858 November 29 The Orcadian

KIRKWALL. – A band of tramps, notorious characters, three in number, all lame of either hand or foot, was picked up by the police, and sent to Scrabster per “Royal Mail” last week.

Our fishermen have been enjoying a rich harvest of sillocks for the past few weeks. Large quantities of them have been consigned to the dunghill, and excellent manure they make. The sea is thus rendered tributary of its treasures to enrich the land and cause it to yield waving crops of excellent grain, as food for man and beast.

EMIGRATION TO NEW ZEALAND. – We have been favoured with a letter from Otago, New Zealand, of date 7th August last, from an Orkneyman who emigrated a number of years ago, we believe, from the island of Rousay. After introducing himself as an old acquaintance, and ordering three copies of the Orcadian to be regularly sent out to him, he says “This is a good country for our dear old Orkney people. I do truly believe that of all other parts in the world to which our people in Orkney emigrate, the great province of Otago is the best,” and that our Orkney friends in Otago are delighted at the idea of obtaining a newspaper from their never-forgotten fatherland, and concludes to the effect that private letters from friends at home, are not regarded with the same general interest by parties abroad, as they regard the Orcadian newspaper when it arrives. We also received from the same party a printed lecture on the state of Otago, to which we intend soon to refer, for the information of parties at home who may wish it.

[The Free Church of Scotland in co-operation with a company in New Zealand organised large scale emigration from Scotland to Otago after New Zealand came under British rule in 1840.  The city of Dunedin, named after the Scottish capital, was the creation of these early Free Kirk settlers.  It is likely that the Woo Marwicks who were staunch members of the Free Kirk in Sourin took advantage of the sponsorship their church offered.

There was no name attached to the newspaper article above, but…..eldest son Hugh Marwick who was a boat builder to trade was the first to go.  He left in 1855 with his wife Margaret Sinclair from Swandale and their two children, Annie aged two and Elizabeth who was still just a baby in arms.  The sadness of parting would soon give way to brighter thoughts of their future in a new land and it must have been a severe blow to this young family when baby Elizabeth died at sea, a victim of the cramped and harsh conditions of a sailing ship on a twelve-week voyage.]

1858 December 27 The Orcadian

THE WEATHER. – Since our last the weather has been very stormy. It blew complete hurricanes on Tuesday and Wednesday, from the south and south-west, and the steamer from Lerwick did not reach Kirkwall till about 2 a.m. on Friday, when the inhabitants were aroused from their slumbers by tuck of drum. The ship, “Annette,” stranded on Flotta, as reported in our last, has become a total wreck. 25 of the crew went south by the steamer. This ship, which is only about two years run, is said to be the finest fitted up vessel ever seen in Orkney. It is reported that she is insured to the amount of £16,000.

CHRISTMAS DAY. – Saturday being the 25th, alias Yule-day, the banks and other public offices were closed, and the principal shops in town were shut at 2 o’clock. The school-boys attempted to get up the old game of foot-ball on the streets, notwithstanding the proclamation to the contrary, but on the appearance of the police, the juveniles quickly made their exit down the closes, and crossing the ‘peerie sea’ in their flight they received a cold water bath for their pains. The day passed away without anything worthy of not.