1859 January 3 The Orcadian
NEW-YEAR’S DAY – THE FOOT-BALL. – The only exciting, though foolish and dangerous game, which takes place in Kirkwall on New-Year’s Day is that of foot-ball, which is played on the streets; and, as on former years, it was thrown up at one o’clock, at the “Market Cross.” The Broad Street was as usual crowded with spectators, but the players were comparatively few in number, and altogether disproportioned as to sides. Within three minutes after the ball was thrown up, it disappeared down Albert and Bridge Streets, and in five minutes all was over by its being kicked into the harbour. At this stage of the proceedings, and by way of ‘finale,’ some of the players, including a lot of navvies, felt disposed to renew the game with the fist, which however was entirely put an end to by the crowd closing in and refusing the combatants sufficient room to exercise their pugilistic propensities.
1859 January 6 The Orcadian
A navvy, John Campbell, from Invergordon, was apprehended for stealing a pig from a piggery in Firth, and immediately afterwards a shovel from the farm of Orquil in Scapa. Campbell brought the pig to Mr Martin, provision merchant, who very properly enquired how the animal (a sow in young) had come into his possession; but, upon receiving no satisfactory answer, refused to give it back. Campbell now set off to Orquil, and was detected carrying away the shovel, and locked up till a police officer was sent for, who took him to town, and, upon examination, had him committed for trial. Campbell is bridegroom to one of the five brides referred to some weeks ago, but who have not as yet, according to the rules of the church, exchanged the bridal for the married state.
1859 January 13 The Orcadian
WRECK. – We regret to record the total loss of the Rousay packet, “Remember,” upon the island of Egilshay, on Monday last. This fine little vessel was recently purchased by a company to ply between Rousay and Kirkwall. The packet was lying at anchor when the gale came on, and she slipped her chains, and went to pieces.
ESCAPE OF A PRISONER FROM KIRKWALL JAIL. – To-day (Friday), about two o’clock p.m., while the Jailor, as we are informed, was admitting two friends to visit a lunatic lately brought in, they had to pass through the cell in which Campbell, a navvy, was locked up, awaiting his trial for stealing a pig and shoveI, as reported in our last, – upon the disappearance ot the Jailor into the inner cell, – Campbell artfully managed to walk out into the court behind the prison, taking care to lock the door behind him – thus locking in the Jailor – and then managed to scale the outer wall, and made off! Within a few minutes the Jailor discovered his position, and, upon his bawling out for assistance, a crowd began to collect – suspecting that the lunatic might have got outrageous. It was however soon known how matters stood, and a man having got ladders, scaled the wall in order to open the door and liberate the Jailor, while the hue and cry was raised after Campbell. The whole available police and constabulary forces were soon off in search for the missing jail-bird. Poor Campbell has been brought back and lodged in his old quarters.
1859 January 27 The Orcadian
THE WEATHER. – A stormy series has set in upon us – heavy and continuous rain, with high winds, ending in a snow storm. On Wednesday morning our hills and valleys were laid white; the winds are now set, but it is continuing to snow. Notwithstanding the severity of the weather, our mail steamer is running her voyages with remarkable regularity.
SHERIFF CRIMINAL COURT. – On Wednesday, John Campbell, a navvy, already referred to in our columns, was brought up upon the charges of stealing a pig and a shovel. He pled guilty, and was sentenced to 35 days imprisonment…..
1859 February 3 The Orcadian
We often read accounts of the voracity of the fish tribe, and of many a strange discovery when the contents of their stomach have been examined, but the following is probably one of the most curious discoveries of the class referred to which has been made, and the character and intelligence of the finder is a sufficient voucher for its authenticity. A short time ago Mr Thomas Drever, pilot, residing at Surrigar, Westray, was out at sea fishing with the long line, and on taking the line in he found that a star-fish hail swallowed a hook and bait. In extricating the hook he had to tear the fish asunder, and in the hollow or cavity of one of its arms he found an ear-ring, such as is often worn by sailors, and which is now before us.
1859 February 17 The Orcadian
We were to-day subjected to the visitation of a storm of thunder and lightning, with showers of large hail-stones. We have had a great deal of loose stormy weather, with very much rain. Since the thunder a good deal of snow has fallen, which, however, is fast disappearing.
1859 March 14 The Orcadian
THE LATE GALES. – Very heavy gales of wind have prevailed, with alternate showers of snow and rain, during the past week. It blew a perfect hurricane from the south on Friday night. These storms have not blown over without, we regret to say, carrying sad fruit. The ship “Lord Mulgrave,” of Hull, for New York, with a cargo of coals, has been totally lost. On the evening of Wednesday this vessel struck on the rocks between the Black Crag and Breckness, about 6 o’clock. Of the crew of 14 men, it is distressing to record the loss of five – including the captain, second mate, and three men – of whom only one of the bodies has yet been found. The schooner “Barbara,” of Dundee, which was loading potatoes at Deersound, was driven ashore on Friday night, below Braebister. The crew were saved, and the vessel, which has about 200 barrels of potatoes, will be got off. Large quantities of wood have been picked up along the shores of our islands during the past two weeks, and it is feared that some large vessel has been lost not far from our coasts. A number of our island packets have been prevented in their weekly communications, and the steamer “Sovereign,” which reached Kirkwall Bay on Saturday the 5th inst., about 9 p.m., and thence proceeded to Lerwick, did not return till 9 p.m. on Sabbath the 13th, having encountered dreadful weather.
FEARFUL SHIPWRECK AND LOSS OF LIFE, NEAR STROMNESS. – On Wednesday, the 9th inst., a lamentable accident occurred on the shore in the vicinity of the town of Stromness, – the total loss of the barque “Lord Mulgrave,” of Hull, 497 tons burthen, Capt. Robert Atkinson, from Shields, for New York, with coals, and five of her crew, which consisted in all of 14 souls, drowned. The vessel, having been upwards of three weeks out of port, experienced tremendous weather, and spent nearly all her sails. On Tuesday the 8th, Dunnet Head light was sighted, when the captain determined to make for Stromness harbour, with the view to refit; but, on Wednesday, the wind blew a perfect hurricane from the S.W., with occasional showers, and the vessel, in attempting to weather the point of Breckness, in order to get into Hoy Sound, became unmanageable, owing to the want of sails. A very heavy sea was running on the shore to leeward. The anchor was however dropped, and the lifeboat got out to attempt landing, but the boat was capsized at the vessel’s side, and two men and a boy, aged 15, who had got into her, found a watery grave. The anchor proved insufficient to hold the vessel, and consequently she was driven on the rocks, every wave telling fearfully on her. In a few minutes the mizzen, and shortly after the main mast went over the side, – the sea sweeping over the devoted vessel, and carrying everything before it. The crew took to the tore-rigging, or wherever there was any chance of safety, and continued there so long as the increasing darkness, and the sea, which at times completely covered the vessel, permitted them to be seen by the anxious spectators on the shore.
An eye-witness describes what follows thus:- The scene from the shore was now terrific. The waves broke furiously on the shore, and flung their spray far inland, and the angry wind swept past in fitful gusts, making it a difficult matter to preserve a footing on the beach. The gallant ship, which, a few hours before, rode comparatively unscathed on the waves, now lay tossing and writhing among the pointed rocks, every wave sweeping fragments to the shore, which soon covered the beach. The fore-mast had gone, the vessel parted amidships, but nothing could be seen of the unfortunate sailors, who were now given up for lost. But about 8 o’clock, a cry was heard in the direction of the wreck, by a few persons whose anxiety had brought them to the point of the rocks nearest the vessel, and two or three dark objects were seen in relief on the white foam. The party on the rocks replied by shouting, and, headed by a young man, William Louttit, a native of the town, determined to strain every nerve to save them, and, after extraordinary efforts and great risk, succeeded in bringing to the land, nine poor fellows, who were quite exhausted by cold and fatigue, and who would otherwise have been swept from their hold on the rocks by the advancing tide, and perished. The parties lost were the Captain; Charles Dolanson, second mate; Edward Kirk, and Thomas McClosky, seamen; and the boy, Charles Chatham.
The gallant conduct of the young man, Louttit, cannot be spoken of too highly. He placed himself in the most imminent peril in successively bringing to land two or three the almost helpless sailors. We can recommend him as well entitled to the honorary medal from those societies which in this way patronise and reward such conduct.
The sailors have been provided with food and clothing by the agent of the S.F.M.R.B. Society [Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners’ Royal Benevolent Society] here, and will be assisted home first opportunity, via Kirkwall.
The chief officer and remnant crew of the ill-fated barque, attended public worship on Sabbath, in the Free Church in the forenoon, and in the U. P. Church in the afternoon, at which diets the precentor of each church read as follows, by request: “The chief officer and crew of the ‘Lord Mulgrave’ desire to return thanks to Almighty God for their late deliverance from a watery grave.”
The crew reached Kirkwall today (Monday), and requested us to express their heart-felt thanks to various parties in Stromness for the marked kindness they experienced in the efforts made to save their lives; and they beg particularly to name Messrs William Louttit, and John Muir, watchmaker; and Messrs Thomas Linklater, and George Inkster, of Breckness.
We regret to add that reports are in circulation of unprincipled parties plundering the wreck. Should these reports prove true, it is hoped that the guilty parties will be discovered, and meet with merited punishment.
1859 March 21 The Orcadian
STROMNESS. – We have it reported to us that the names of parties engaged in the discreditable work of stealing the wrecked wood, driven on shore from the wreck of the “Lord Mulgrave,” are on record, and that proceedings against them will be forthwith instituted, The police and Sheriff officers have been on the alert since the night of the wreck, and have displayed considerable skill and efficiency in the discovery of the depredators, whose exposure and punishment, will doubtless, be effective in stamping, with well-merited reprehension, such disgraceful and heartless proceedings.
1859 March 28 The Orcadian
STROMNESS – March 23 1859. – The remainder of the wreck of the ‘’Lord Mulgrave’’ was exposed for sale on Friday the 18th and Monday the 21st inst. We are informed that some of the wreck still remains on hand.
Those implicated in plundering from the wreck of the ‘’Lord Mulgrave’’ were marched off to Kirkwall this evening (Wednesday), in charge of the police officers. We are sorry to have to report such a thing from our good little town.
KIRKWALL – THEFT OF WRECK AT STROMNESS. – On Wednesday evening last a number of men were brought to Kirkwall, in virtue of criminal warrants issued against them for alleged theft of portions of the wreck of the barque “Lord Mulgrave,” lately driven ashore near Stromness. It was certainly a most undesirable sight to see so many young men in the hands of the constabulary, paraded through our streets to the Court House, for examination upon so disgraceful a charge as that of stealing from a wrecked ship. Four carts laden with the stolen property, were also brought to town, consisting of ropes, blocks, iron, wood, large casks, &c. Mr Francis Anderson, chief officer, was at the precognition to identify the articles. The plunderers had actually commenced their nefarious proceedings before the poor sailors were saved from the wreck. After the chief mate had reached the shore, he succeeded in saving some of his clothes, which were laid out to dry; and, after nobly engaging himself in assisting his poor ship mates, he went back for his clothes, but THEY WERE GONE. The number of prisoners brought to examination on Thursday, we believe, were 12, but it is suspected that others will be implicated. They were released on bail.
1859 April 11 The Orcadian
The usual Quarterly Return of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, registered in Scotland during the quarter ending December 1858, has been lately published: the following are the Registrar’s notes for Orkney…..
ROUSAY AND EGILSAY. – The marriages for the quarter are higher than during any other period since the Registration Act came into operation. Diarrhoea and colds prevail very much in all the districts of the parish – the weather being at present excessively wet, and no frost to purify the air…..
1859 April 25 The Orcadian
THE WEATHER. – After a series of many weeks of the most inclement weather ever remembered by man living, we are happy to have to note a most agreeable change on Friday last. The labours of the fields, which are far behind, will now be proceeded with in all directions.
1859 May 2 The Orcadian
ROUSAY ACCIDENT. – On Saturday 9th April, Barbara Craigie, wife of Mr John Kirkness, senior, Quoyostray, being landed [by boat] in Sourin, was endeavouring to make her way home, and, when between Bigland and Swandale, fell, and appears to have lain about two hours before she recovered her senses. Feeling herself unable to reach her home, she went to Swandale, and was carted to her own home on Sabbath morning, and, from the internal injuries received, died the following Wednesday.
[Poor Barbara was in her 80th year when this happened. Husband John was 102 years of age when he passed away in 1862.]
SHERIFF CRIMINAL COURT. – The following parties were placed at the bar on Tuesday, charged with stealing from the wreck of the late barque “Lord Mulgrave” of Hull, wrecked near Stromness a few weeks ago: – Thomas Marwick, Liffin, Innertown, Stromness; Jas. Leask, fisherman, do.; Jas. Irvine, junr., Feolquoy, Outertown, do.; Nathaniel Velzian, Forsewell, Yestanabie, Sandwick, all pled guilty, and were sentenced to 20 days’ imprisonment each. William Flett, Dykeside, Outertown, Stromness, pled guilty, and was sentenced to 26 days. John Flett, Dykeside, Outertown, pled not guilty, but proof being led, he was found guilty, and was sentenced to 6 weeks. John Marwick, son of the above Thomas Marwick, not having appeared, his bail was forfeited.
1859 May 30 The Orcadian
QUARTERLY RETURN OF BIRTHS, MARRIAGES, AND DEATHS…..Rousay and Egilsay. – The number of births is three less than last quarter – all legitimate. Five of the persons whose deaths have been registered were aged respectively 73, 77, 78, 87, and 104 years – total, 419 years. The individual noted 104 was George Reid, a native of the island of Westray. He enjoyed good health and the use of his faculties until within three days of his decease.
[The earlier report of his age being 107 was an ‘exaggeration’! – no doubt so that it rhymed with him going to heaven in the “doggerel poem”!!]
1859 June 6 The Orcadian
SHERIFF CRIMINAL COURT. – John Gibson, John Craigie, and Hugh Sinclair, were charged on Tuesday, before Sheriff Robertson, at the instance of the procurator fiscal, with having found and retained derelict timber which had been driven on shore on the island of Rousay in the months of February and March last. The charges were proved against the three parties, and they were fined, the first two in 20s. each, and the third 15s. Similar charges were brought against Peter Reid, Alexander Logie, John Logie, John and Thomas Louttit, all from Rousay, and William Logie, residing in the parish of Orphir; but as it was shown by the evidence in Alexander Logie’s case that, from the severity of the weather at the time, it was impossible for any of those parties to have delivered up the wood sooner than when the officer arrived from Kirkwall and demanded it, and also that the wood was at once delivered upon demand, the charges against those parties were abandoned by the prosecutor.
1859 June 13 The Orcadian
LOBSTERS. – The lobster fishing has been pretty successful in Orkney this season, the boats in the South Isles having as high as 100-a-week each. A very large number was sent with the steamer on Wednesday for the London market, as has been the case for a number of weeks past.
1859 June 20 The Orcadian
CALL. – The Free Church congregation of Rousay have elected as their minister the Rev. N. P. Rose, presently at Tarland [Aberdeenshire]. The settlement promises to be a most harmonious one. During the time that Mr Rose has been in charge of the Free Church Station at Tarland, now nearly twelve months, his labours have been able and efficient, as the state of the promising congregation there will testify. The attendance has been steadily on the increase, the Sabbath school classes have been largely augmented, the temperance movement has made a good commencement, the place of worship has been improved, while contributions generally have been well kept up, and during the winter months there was a course of popular lecture’s very successfully conducted. The active part taken by Mr Rose for the promotion of truth and godliness in the district, augurs well for his labours in his new sphere.
1859 June 27 The Orcadian
FREE CHURCH PRESBYTERY OF ORKNEY. – This Presbytery met at Kirkwall on Tuesday 14th current. Present, Messrs Rettie, White, Sinclair, Robb, Peddie, and Stewart, ministers, and Mr Samuel Eunson, elder, with a commission from St. Andrews.
The Clerk laid on the table extract minutes of the Sustention Committee in the case of Rousay, and of the General Assembly in the case of Firth. In the former case, the Committee acquiesced in the settlement of a minister in the vacant congregation of Rousay, on condition that they engaged to contribute £55 annually to the Sustentation Fund. The Moderator produced a letter from the Deacon’s Court of Rousay to that effect; whereupon he was appointed to moderate in a call at Rousay on 7th July, in favour of Mr Neil Patrick Rose, whose election by a majority of the congregation had been reported to the last meeting of Presbytery, and Mr Armour was appointed to serve the edict to that effect on Sabbath 26th inst…..
1859 July 11 The Orcadian
WESTRAY. – The “No Joke”, after a cruise of about six weeks, arrived here on Friday the 1st July, from the Faroe fishing, with 310 scores of very fine cod. On the day of her leaving the fishing ground, a fatal accident took place, resulting in the loss of one of the fishermen, by name Hugh Craigie, an amiable young man belonging to the island of Rousay. When the sad event happened everything was done that men could do under the circumstance. The vessel was twice stayed, and each time a rope was thrown, but of which he seemed unconscious.
[Hugh Craigie, born in Wasbister on May 4th 1834, was the son of former soldier James Craigie and Margaret Shearer, Turbitail.]
1859 July 18 The Orcadian
FREE CHURCH PRESBYTERY OF ORKNEY…..Messrs White and Sinclair produced the call from the Rousay congregation in favour of the Rev. Neil P. Rose, signed by 4 elders, 102 communicants, and 48 adherents, being a full majority of the whole congregation. There were no dissents and Messrs W. And S. explained that any symptoms of dissension which appeared in the congregation had avowedly no reference to any dislike to Mr Rose (the congregation, as Mr White explained, having at the election unanimously resolved to acquiesce in the choice of the majority), but in certain misunderstandings among themselves; and they expressed their earnest hope and expectation that if Mr Rose were settled, the result would be every way satisfactory. The Presbytery unanimously sustained the Call, and instructed the clerk to send it to Mr Rose for his decision, with the request that, in the event of his acceptance, he would, if convenient, be present at the next meeting of the Presbytery…..
1859 August 1 The Orcadian
THE WEATHER. – A good deal of rain has fallen during the week, with strong westerly winds. The crops are luxuriant; no potato disease as yet, and turnips are doing well. Our prospects of an abundant harvest are bright.
1859 August 15 The Orcadian
The “Prince Consort” arrived at Kirkwall at about 6 p.m. on Saturday. There were a very large number of passengers of all grades of society, clerical, medical, commercial, sporting gentlemen, showmen, cheap Johns, dwarfs and giants, &c. Among the crowd we noticed thes following, viz., Colonel Wallington, Mr Ansley, Mr Tupper and family, Mr Walls, Capt. Rendall, Rev. Mr Rettie, Rev. Mr Salmon, Mr Munro, Mr and Mrs Leask of Boardhouse, Miss Spence of East bank, Miss Traill of Westness, Miss Brotchie, Miss Banks, &c. Mr Milne, the company’s manager, also came north, and there were a large number of cattle dealers.
1859 August 22 The Orcadian
REGISTRAR’S NOTES. The following are the notes of the Northern Counties’ Registrars, contained in the report of the Registrar-General, for the quarter ended 30th June, just published…..ROUSAY AND EGILSHAY. – Measles prevailed much among the young but in no instance proved fatal. Diarrhoea, inflammatory colds &c., are rife at present; this however may be easily accounted for, seeing that our mornings and evenings have the coldness of winter…..
1859 August 29 The Orcadian
It is stated that the average duration of a ship of war, in a sea-worthy state, built of British oak, is only thirteen years of active service. It takes seventy acres of ground eighty years to produce the timber.
1859 September 12 The Orcadian
ORDINATIONS. Rousay. – On Thursday last, the reverend, the Free Church Presbytery of Orkney, met in the Free Church of the Island of Rousay, for the purpose of ordaining the Rev. N. P. Rose to the pastoral inspection of that congregation. The church was crowded to overflowing…..
1859 September 19 The Orcadian
Harvest operations are proceeding throughout the islands. We have had another week of admirable weather, and it is earnestly hoped that no delay will be allowed in cutting and securing ripe grain during the fine weather.
1859 September 26 The Orcadian
MAJOR BURROUGHS of Rolfsay and Veira, has been visiting in the West Mainland, and has spent the last week at Binscarth. We are happy to learn that, at the last meeting of the Town Council, it was resolved to present the gallant Major with the freedom of our ancient burgh. Certainly no gentleman connected with Orkney has better established claims to every honour we can pay him.
AURORA BOREALIS. – On Saturday evening last the sky over Kirkwall was brilliantly illuminated, from the horizon, at almost all points of the compass, to the zenith.
The weather has been unsettled during the past week – cold winds with rain. There is still a good deal of harvest work to be done. A week or two of settled, dry, weather is greatly needed.
1859 October 3 The Orcadian
PRESENTATION OF THE FREEDOM OF THE BURGH OF KIRKWALL TO MAJOR BURROUGHS. – The Town Council met on Wednesday, at 1 p.m., for the purpose of presenting the Freedom of the Burgh to Major Burroughs of H.M. 93rd Regiment, on occasion of his present visit to his estates of Rousay and Viera, after his distinguished services in two campaigns, viz., in the late Crimean War and India. In presenting the freedom, written out on parchment, with the usual seals attached, Provost Spence spoke to the following effect:-
MAJOR BURROUGHS, – We are met as representing this community, to offer you our congratulations on your return to this land of your inheritance and adoption, and to express to you our admiration of your bravery and gallant services, not only during the arduous campaign under the almost polar regions of the Crimea, but also in the perils and sufferings of our country’s troop’s beneath the burning sun of India, where you were yourself severely wounded. Among the warlike people of former times the returning victor received a laurel crown; admission to the freedom of the city or burgh is one of the forms in which such honour is now paid to the brave. As Magistrates and Councillors of this burgh, we welcome your return after all your brave services and sufferings; we congratulate you on your preservation through them, and we place in your hands, in token of our esteem and appreciation, this diploma of your admission to the rights and privileges of citizenship. The Royal Burgh of Kirkwall is remarkable both as the most northern of Her Majesty’s Burghs, and also one of the most ancient, dating back to the almost fabulous periods of antiquity, and mentioned in the poems of Ossian, under the name of Carrickthura. In the well-known lines on the death of the gallant Wolfe, it is said –
When victory shines on life’s last ebbing sands,
Oh who would not die with the brave?
I may be permitted to adopt an amendment, and say –
Oh who would not LIVE with the brave
who return from the battle-field; and I would express the hope that the day is not distant when you will return to take up your residence permanently in what I have called the land of your adoption, and your place in the society of Kirkwall, to enjoy, in the retirement of domestic life, the highest happiness which earth can afford, and that repose and comfort which you have justly earned.
The gallant Major replied as follows:-
PROVOST AND GENTLEMEN, – I thank you for the honour that you have this day done me in electing me a Free Guild Burgess of your ancient and Royal Burgh. I thank you, Provost, for the very indulgent manner in which you have been pleased to notice my modest services to my country. There are few greater rewards to the home-returning soldier than to find, on his return to his country, that friendly eyes have been watching his actions, step by step, and to find that those actions have merited the approval of his friends. I am not vain enough to think that it is myself alone that you wish to do honour to on this occasion. No; I regard this Burgess ticket as an expression of your approbation of the services of Her Majesty’s armies in the last two wars, in which I have taken part; as the expression of your approbation conferred upon me as the representative of those armies amongst you. On personal grounds it is most pleasing to me to receive this mark of approbation at your hands, for, being the first of my name settled in Orkney, this inaugurates a good beginning, and, I trust, a long continuation of it amongst you. I leave Orkney after each successive visit with more regret, and I look forward with pleasure to the day when I shall be settled in Rousay, and personally assisting in the great works of improvement and cultivation in progress throughout the county. In the mean time it shall be my endeavour to make myself yet more worthy of the honour you have now conferred upon me, and I trust you may never have cause to be ashamed of the Free Guild Burgess you have this day elected.
The Provost then warmly congratulated the gallant Major by a hearty shake of the hand, which was followed by the senior and junior Bailies, and the other members of Council in turn.
The proceedings were witnessed by number of the principal inhabitants, who joined in a hearty burst of applause upon the entrance the gallant Major into the Council Chamber.
1859 October 24 The Orcadian
THE WEATHER. – Since our last the weather has been resuming its wintry hue. On Thursday it blew strong from the N.E., with heavy showers of rain and sleet, and very cold. There is still some grain on the fields, and a few patches of potatoes undisturbed. The weather, during the harvest, has been on the whole favourable, though perhaps not of so ripening a character as could have been desired, and, in consequence, several fields may have been cut down in a partially ripe state, but on the other hand nothing has been lost by shake. Fair samples of new oatmeal is selling at 18s. per boll of 140 lbs.; Potatoes, good, 3s. per barrel, and are expected to be abundant. Turnips offer favourably. We beg to call the attention of our agricultural friends to a communication on the cultivation of this valuable crop by an Orcadian gentleman farmer of considerable experience.
1859 November 7 The Orcadian
LANDLORD AND TENANT. – On Tuesday the 11th ult., Major Burroughs of Rousay and Viera, entertained his tenantry to dinner in Westness House, Rousay. Mr Scarth of Binscarth was also present. The entertainment was all that could be desired. A number of loyal and patriotic toasts were given, and ably supported by suitable addresses, in which the several speakers among the tenants eulogised their worthy landlord, and his go-ahead factor. The utmost good feeling prevailed, and evidence was abundant that the best understanding prevails between the gallant Major and his tenantry. There were upwards of 60 present. In the evening, pursuant to arrangement, an excellent supper was provided for the youth on the estate, who attended in large numbers, of both sexes, and enjoyed themselves to their hearts’ content till a late, or rather an early, hour.
1859 November 14 The Orcadian
Last week has been a remarkable one, and has astonished the weather wise, as, in the beginning, the mercury in the barometer was at the lowest, and, towards the end, it was at the highest scale of the whole of 1859. We certainly have had a great change in the weather, – the fearful and destructive storms having given place to fine, dry winter weather, which we hope will last. Everything now begins to have a cold appearance, and in our streets are daily to be seen cart loads of geese, reminding one that Christmas is not far away.
1859 November 21 The Orcadian
KIRKWALL – A BOY DENTIST. – A little boy, at one of our schools, the other day seeing another boy pull out one of his teeth, asked it from him and got it. The little fellow made the best of his way home with the tooth to his mother, knowing that she had lost one. He arrived almost breathless with haste, his face beaming with delight, and, on presenting it to his mother, said, “Mither, ye want a teeth, dont ye”? She answered in the affirmative. “Weel then,” said the boy, “I has one for ye: I got it fae C.M., and has brout it tae ye, as I kent ye wantit een”! The mother burst out in a roar of laughter, and, to the surprise of the considerate boy, the tooth was not accepted.
1859 December 5 The Orcadian
In another column will be found an advertisement for the enrolment of a Reserve force of Naval Volunteers, to which we beg to call the attention of our sailors in the coasting trade. Apart from the great and decided advantages secured to our coasting seamen by joining this Force, this scheme for providing our country with a Reserve Force of 30,000 Naval Volunteers, to be called into active service at any moment when required, is receiving, very justly, the unanimous approval of the country. The 30,000 will soon be enrolled, and we sincerely hope that our Orcadian seamen, engaged in the coasting trade, will not be slow to avail themselves of the advantages of enrolment, and of expressing their patriotic loyalty in their readiness to serve their Queen and count y in the hour of need, should that hour ever arrive…..
We understand that nearly 30 fine, smart looking young men have enrolled themselves in the Royal Naval Coast Volunteers during the past month, and went south for drill on Tuesday last. The total number of Orkney men in this force will now amount to about 100.
1859 December 19 The Orcadian
We have had a week of extremely rough weather. The “Ariel” sailed on Monday; and the “Prince Consort” arrived from Lerwick on Tuesday, with a violent gale of north wind which prevented the shipment of goods all that and the following day, and detained the vessel here till Thursday forenoon. Very heavy falls of snow has been the result of the northerly gales, so completely blocking up our roads that scarcely man or beast can pass. The mails, which were due at 7 a.m. on Thursday, reached Kirkwall on horseback only on Friday afternoon; and Saturday’s mail only arrived this [Monday] afternoon. The fall of snow, which still continues, is so very great that, in the opinion of many, there has been nothing equal to it for twenty years back. In many places where the roads are dyked on both sides, the snow is on a line with the top of the walls, and is in considerable depths on the plains.
1859 December 26 The Orcadian
THE WEATHER. – After a week of strong frost, and a heavy fall of snow, we have had a week of fresh weather, which set in strong but not violent. The wind went round the compass and took up its point from the northward whence the snow had come the previous week, and we have the frost and snow again in full retreat. On Saturday we had very rough wind from the south-east, and a dozen carts were employed to carry away from the streets the accumulation of frost and snow.
The “Ariel” steamer, after her arrival from Lerwick on Wednesday, was detained by the severity of the weather till Thursday, but after putting out a little way to sea, she was obliged to run into EIwick [Shapinsay], where she lay till 6 a.m. on Friday. The “Prince Consort” only arrived here from the south about 3 p.m. today. The “Ariel” has not returned north for the week. Owing to the delays of the steamer for the past two weeks, the publication of the “Orcadian” has been considerably detained. It is confidently hoped that the public will bear with us in the circumstances in which we are placed.
1860 January 2 The Orcadian
Amid the many expressions of goodwill which the season calls for, we would remind our readers, and the public generally, of the claims of our ill-paid and well-wrought Letter Carriers all over the Islands, to a New Year’s Box, well filled.
1860 January 9 The Orcadian
NEW YEAR’S DAY was held here on both Monday and Tuesday. The tradesmen and others, not feeling satisfied with the merchants, at not consulting them before deciding on holding the day on Tuesday, celebrated Monday, and had their usual game of foot-ball, which suspended all business during the short time it was played. Bands of noisy boys paraded the streets during the morning, and “first-footing” was briskly carried on. The day being the time of our monthly market, large numbers of country friends were in town, which added to the animated appearance of our little town. The whole proceedings of the day passed off without disturbance, somewhat jovial, as a number of “drouthy neebours” denoted. On Tuesday, according to announcement, the merchants closed their shops, and, the day being fine, betook themselves to the country, where they had plenty of amusement in shooting, fishing, &c. An almost unbroken stillness pervaded the town during the day, which gave it far more the appearance of a “fast-day” than the “glad new year.”
1860 January 26 The Orcadian
The weather has been very changeable during the week, clear and frost, with rain and cold winds, every alternate day. Heavy gales from the S.E. and N.E. have kept the sea in fearful commotion all along our coasts, but, with a good shower of snow, the weather has now somewhat relaxed its severity.
1860 February 9 The Orcadian
STROMNESS. – The “Royal Mail” [steamship] is getting repaired at Leith. We are just missing her much like all other good things – only missed when away.
Thomas Marwick, whose death I send, was one of those in jail for wrecking, and never got the better of his idea of your Kirkwall lodgings.
There is nothing moving in this quarter. We have coarse weather. Mrs Paterson, a well-known individual, has died to-day. She has been exceedingly healthy till of late. A number are moving away, and many old people complain that this severe weather is trying the sickly.
MARRIAGES. – At Woo, Rousay, on the 31st ult., by the Rev. Neil P. Rose, of the Free Church, Robert Stevenson, Esq., [Kirbist] Egilshay, to Margaret, daughter of Mr Thomas Marwick, farmer, Woo.
[Margaret and her brother John were the only members of the nine-strong Marwick family not to emigrate to New Zealand after their mother Ann Gibson, originally from Broland, died in 1861.]
1860 March 1 The Orcadian
On Wednesday Iast week the public crier went round informing the inhabitants that the “Prince Consort ” was to sail for Thurso and Aberdeen the following morning at 6 o’clock. Several intending passengers, relying upon this public intimation, had gone to bed; but early the next morning about the hour of two, the sleeping inhabitants were once more aroused by the voice of the public crier, informing them that the “Prince Consort” was to sail immediately, and that all intending passengers would require to be on board without delay. The steamer, accordingly, set sail; but some either not having heard or paying no regard to the last proclamation, slept on and the consequence was, missed their passage. One, if not more, hired a conveyance, and went south by another route, and we have no doubt but that the steamer’s company will have to be responsible for the additional expense incurred. But as this is a matter more of a private character, and which we may reasonably leave the parties themselves to settle, we do not feel called upon to interfere. It is very different, however, with the practice of midnight proclamations, which we have observed more than once, and which, not unfrequently, causes surprise and alarm to the lieges. Except in the cases of fire or some such unexpected occurrence, we do not think that the town crier has any right to make a proclamation after a certain hour of the night, and it would be right that some instructions were given him to that effect. We know several who were roused out of their beds on Thursday morning last, unnecessarily as it proved to them, and such have, it appears to us, just grounds of complaint.
1860 March 22 The Orcadian
THE ORCADIAN. – Our arrangements being now so far completed, we have much pleasure in informing our numerous readers and the public generally that the present sheet is the last of The Orcadian to be published in its present connection. Our next issue, which will appear on Saturday, the 31st inst., will be the first of our New Series, of which a greatly enlarged impression will be thrown off to meet the increased demand.
THE ORCADIAN will be printed wholly in our office, Victoria Street (a large press having been brought recently from Edinburgh for this purpose) and will be published every Saturday morning in time for the mails. Subscribers in town will receive their copies every Saturday morning, and whatever further news of importance may reach us during the day or by the steamer will be communicated to them on a slip which will be printed for the purpose.
The publisher tenders his most grateful thanks for the kind indulgence with which his humble services in establishing a local newspaper in Kirkwall have been received during the past five years, and now, having by his unaided efforts, succeeded in arriving at that point to which his most anxious wishes have always been directed, he confidently appeals to the public for their continued and increased support.
SPOUT FISHING IN ORKNEY. – Spout fishing has been prosecuted here very largely during the late ebb tides. All along the sandy beaches, all classes – men and boys – might be seen, wandering about, armed with spade or other instrument suitable for the capture of the shell-fish. His presence is usually indicated by the spouting up of jets of water into the air, which he effects through a small aperture at one end of his shell. The experienced eye of the fisher having once discovered this, and judging of his habitude by the direction in which it is propelled upwards, he immediately thrusts in the shovel, and brings him up embedded among the sand. When the animal raises himself partially out of the sand, he may be brought up by the hand, but some instrument or other is usually needed. The late spring tides afforded excellent opportunities for their capture, and as we have already said, advantage was readily taken of them. As many as a hundred people might have been seen amusing themselves in this way, and the coasts around being everywhere well supplied, vast quantities were caught. Many were sold in town, and the price given was usually 3d. per score.
1860 April 14 The Orcadian
EXPECTED COMET. – The great comet of 1556 may be expected about the end of August next. This is one of the most brilliant comets known; on its last appearance its tail extended over above 100 degrees of arc, so that when the nucleus was in the zenith, the extremity of the tail had not yet arisen. This is not only a great comet, but also one of extreme brilliancy.
[7th March 1556 was one of the days on which the Great Comet, or the Comet of Charles V, was seen and recorded by Paul Fabricius, mathematician and physician at Emperor Charles V’s court.]
1860 May 5 The Orcadian
The weather has been all that could be desired since “rosy-footed” May came smiling in upon us. On Sabbath there was some rain, and on Monday signs of improvement were experienced in the mild, warm weather which set in. The operations of the field have made rapid progress. Potato and oat sowing has been almost completed.
1860 May 12 The Orcadian
THE WEATHER. – Since our last we have had cold stormy weather – easterly winds with a good deal of rain. Both steamers, the “Sovereign” and “Prince Consort,” were detained till Wednesday morning. We had no south mail since Tuesday morning, which was owing partly to the weather, and partly to the “Royal Mail” steamer having to undergo the half-yearly Government survey. The rain has greatly refreshed the fields, and the grass looks well; – all we now require is genial warm weather.
1860 June 5 Orkney Herald
[This date saw the 8th issue of the Orkney Herald, it being the first number being lodged at the Inland Revenue office in Edinburgh. The previous seven publications were unavailable for copying by the British Newspaper Archive.]
WESTRAY. – The Royal Mail bag went amissing yesterday (Monday) week, and the inhabitants of this place are very anxious to know what has become of it. Perhaps the Kirkwall postmaster will give the necessary information? We hope he will also state what the reason is that we are scarcely obtaining one mail per week when we have seven packets running, employing twenty-one men, and averaging ten trips weekly? Why should not Capt. Pottinger, of the “Diana,” be entrusted with the mail, when he is making three voyages in the week to and from town? and what recommends him more is that he is a most trustworthy and obliging person. If this bad order of things goes on longer, a meeting of those most interested will be convened, when the state of matters will be sent to higher quarters.
1860 June 12 Orkney Herald
THE WEATHER AND RURAL AFFAIRS. – “Nature and human nature,” as Sam Slick would say, are groaning together under a prolonged infliction of east and north winds. Since the storm of 27th May, which, however, was not so severe in this district as it was in the south, the wind has pertinaciously blown from the east or north-east. Frequently also it has been accompanied by cold rain. “Human nature” has been afflicted with colds, coughs, sore throats, and similar visitations. The inanimate creation seems not to have suffered so much, few the fields are looking wonderfully green, the corn and hay crops are advancing most satisfactorily, and the potatoes also are looking exceedingly well. On Saturday evening, however, the wind shifted round more to the northward, and the cold has become even more severe. Yesterday the air was exceedingly cold for the season, with bleak, sleety-looking clouds, which seemed to threaten a re-visitation of surly winter. We would gladly dispense with any further touch of his icy fingers for this season.
1860 July 3 Orkney Herald
NEW COMET. – A comet was seen by various parties in England on the evening of the 21st June. It appeared first in the north-west part of the sky, at a quarter-past ten in the evening. At two in the morning it was very brilliant in the north-east, in about 25 degrees of altitude. Its tail was a straight narrow line of light about four degrees in length. It seems yet uncertain whether this be the expected large comet, or a new one that has unexpectedly made its appearance; but should the evenings become clear it may possibly still be seen by our Orkney readers.
BARBER AND HAIR-DRESSER WANTED. – We believe Kirkwall is about to lose the only man who laid claim to be a professional barber and hair-cutter. Even during his sojourn here, our one hair-cutter did not enjoy the reputation of being quite up to the fashionable cut, and married men frequently preferred to have their wives take scissors in hand, while bachelors had nothing for it but apply to their tailors. Is there no respectable peruke-maker in Edinburgh who would think of migrating northwards? He would receive a cordial welcome and abundance of work.
[A peruke was a man’s wig of the 17th and 18th centuries, usually powdered and gathered at the back of the neck with a ribbon; periwig.]
1860 July 10 Orkney Herald
ROUSAY – FREAK OF NATURE. – Among a number of chickens recently hatched belonging to Mrs McLellan, U.P. Manse, Rousay, was one having two distinct bills. Its head was considerably larger than that of ordinary chickens; in other respects it resembles its species.
CHINESE MISSION. – On Friday the 22nd ult. the Rev. Mr Williamson, one of the London Missionary Society’s agents at Shanghai, delivered in the U.P. Church here a very interesting and eloquent address on the “Manners and Customs of the Chinese.” The rev. gentleman also preached a missionary sermon on the afternoon of the following Sabbath to a large audience. A collection was taken in aid of the London Missionary Society, with special reference to the Chinese Mission.
1860 July 31 Orkney Herald
ROUSAY – NEW POTATOES. – On Monday last, the 23rd current, a dish of new potatoes, the first we have heard of in the island this season, was served for dinner at the U. P. Manse here.
RURAL AFFAIRS. – Cod-fishing continues to be prosecuted here to a limited extent; but numbers of the men have left for the herring fishing at Stronsay. Of those who remain on the island some are engaged in carting peats, and a line of peat banks is being erected along the shore opposite Egilshay, to be conveyed across in boats at some suitable time. The thinning of turnips is also progressing, and hay coils are rising here and there. For picturesque beauty our island can hardly be surpassed by any other in Orkney. The fine hills covered with heath, and the beauteous lakes calmly sleeping in their bosom, afford a pleasing variation from the comparative flatness of some other islands. On the other hand we are less highly favoured in respect of more useful qualities. The soil is light and shallow, and unless kept up by a very abundant supply of manure its strength is exhausted, and it produces little else than weeds after being cropped for a year or two. Drainage also much required, but in this respect we are glad to report progress, many patches being now thoroughly drained, while in other places the work is going on.
FREE CHURCH. – Estimates have been taken for making certain alterations on the Free Church. The present building is one of those low structures without a gallery which were hastily erected to meet the pressing exigencies of the disruption period, but being built on no acoustic principles it is very uncomfortable both to speaker and hearers. It is proposed to make the roof higher, and otherwise to improve the church. The desire is general in the congregation to have the improvements begun as soon as possible, both for their own benefit and the comfort of their pastor, the Rev. N. P. Rose, who is much esteemed and loved by all parties on the island. The only difficulty is the lateness of the season, and the possible approach of winter before the place could be re-roofed.
1860 August 4 The Orcadian
MARRIAGES. – At Westness, Rousay, on the 25th ult., by the Rev. John McLellan, Margaret, daughter of Mr George Learmonth, manager on the estate of Veira, to Mr Alexander Gibson, joiner.
[Margaret was born on September 13th 1833 when father George and his wife Ann Wigham lived at Dirleton, East Lothian. Alexander, born on July 16th 1836, was the son of John Gibson and Barbara Craigie, Vacquoy. A joiner by trade he later designed and built the Wasbister school.]
1860 August 7 Orkney Herald
EMPTY JAIL. – The jail at Kirkwall, after having been occupied for about a fortnight, is again empty. In fact, were it not for vagrants and navvies imported from the south, the Kirkwall jail might almost be let as a cellar for wine and ardent spirits.
1860 August 11 The Orcadian
ORKNEY HERRING FISHING. – The herring fishing has been prosecuted with increased vigour during the past week, and with greater success than has been met with for a number of years back. Some boats have taken large quantities, and a very favourable average over all stations have been arrived at for the week. The fact that the fish have been found principally on the coasts of the north isles is looked upon by our fishermen as very encouraging, and high anticipations of a successful issue is everywhere expressed…..
[At this time Rousay had 13 boats at the fishing].
1860 August 14 Orkney Herald
AURORA. – On the evening of Sunday, a very brilliant aurora covered the southern half of the sky. The streamers seemed to issue from due east, and darting westwards in long shooting lines, soon overspread th zenith. At the same time an arch of rosy light was formed above the southern horizon, and gradually covered with its filmy radiance that portion of the heavens. All along the northern half of the firmament the sky was clear, and with no trace of the “merry dancers” that flitted athwart the opposite horizon. The phenomenon of the aurora australis, or southern light, is very seldom observed from our northern latitude – only two or three times being on record – and when observed is usually very dim, otherwise we should have been inclined to think that the electric coruscations of Sunday evening emanated from the south rather than the north pole.
1860 September 4 Orkney Herald
ROUSAY – Owing to the changeable weather for some time back the harvest is now certain to be late, and the various crops are considerably damaged by the cold and the excess of moisture. The herring fishing, in which some of our islanders were engaged, has also proved a partial failure. Some few boats, however, have been tolerably successful, some having from 30 to 40 crans of fish. We hear sad complaints of damage done by dog-fish, which sometimes destroy whole takes of herring. Two weeks ago, however, there was a very fair take by all the boats, the highest being 20 crans, and the average 10 or 12 crans.
ROADS. – We noticed some time ago that the inhabitants of Sanday had placed themselves under the Orkney Roads Act, and had thus taken one step towards securing for themselves good roads. If it would secure good roads to this island we would recommend the inhabitants to follow the example of their neighbours, as it does not seem likely that the roads will be much the better of the repairs now going forward. In the north-east district, indeed, instead of repairing they are im-pairing it. Instead of most industriously putting stones on the road, they most punctiliously pick them off, while the earth as a blind is loosely thrown on, with here and there a few stones as metal, resembling pepper and salt on a dark cloth. These few days of rainy weather have rendered the new road so soft that it was actually hard enough to prevent a horse sinking further than an inch above the fetlock. Now we maintain that such a repair is unsatisfactory to all concerned. It is a loss to those whose capital is expended, because year after year the same road will require continual repairs. It is unsatisfactory to those who use the road, as it is very apt to damage both horse and cart, and it prevents those who wish from visiting other parts of the island with any degree of comfort. We are aware that the amount to be expended must necessarily be limited; and that how to make a small sum do wonders is a problem difficult to solve; and we know also that the public is a hard taskmaster. But it would, in our opinion, be wiser and more satisfactory were a smaller portion of road made in a workmanlike manner than that a large part be slurred over with gilded dross. It is not sufficient to fill up a rut with is large stone in the middle; it should be filled at the ends also, otherwise the cart wheel going over the large stone makes a hole where it begins to meet resistance and another where it falls. We have no fault to find with any one, but would it not be better to place the island under the Roads Act? At present the road is not what it ought to be in the locality we have indicated; and if the intention was to make not a good road at present it has been fully accomplished. On the other hand, to give credit where it is due, we observe on the eastern and north-eastern sides of the island a great improvement in some places. A good sound bridge has been erected, and some roads formerly exceedingly bad have been made tolerably hard and firm.
COLPORTEUR. – We have been recently visited by Mr [John] Moar, an agent recently appointed, and sustained in great part through the kindness and generosity of Mrs Baxter of ldvies, to distribute and sell religious books provided by the Religious Tract Society of Scotland. It is a good cause, and we heartily wish it much prosperity.
1860 September 11 Orkney Herald
A HORSE FOR TEN SHILLINGS. – Last week Mr J. H. Baikie sold to Mr Henderson, Fraserburgh, an entire horse of 10s, and on Saturday shipped it for Aberdeenshire. We must say, however, to save the credit of the Orkney quadrupeds, that the animal had a defect in one knee, and was commonly called “the horse with the wooden leg.”
[Stallions , male horses or ponies that were 4 years or older that had not been gelded (castrated), were also known as “Entire”.]
1860 September 22 The Orcadian
There is no news of importance from any of the Islands. The fishermen have all returned home, and are in anxious expectancy for the improvement of the weather, and a general outset in harvest operations.
THE WEATHER. – We regret to say that the improvement in the weather has been merely exceptional. Thursday was an excellent day, secceeded however, by a good deal of rain, and on Friday morning we had a shower of hail, after which the day became bright and breezy. On Wednesday night we had a brilliant display of aurora borealis from west northwards to east. Bere is being cut down in a number of places, and promises an average crop. With a fortnight of suitable weather cutting would be general.
In consequence of the success which has attended the project of the Earl of Caithness in running a steam carriage upon common roads, movements are being got up to have this idea carried out more generally. We have now got an excellent new road betwixt Kirkwall and Stromness, we hope that capitalists among us will also make a movement to place a steam carriage upon it; we shall then not only possess good roads but also the means of travelling comfortably and cheaply upon them. This would be the supply of a real want, which a few hundred pounds would realise.
1860 October 9 Orkney Herald
SEVERE GALES – LOSS OF PROPERTY. – The weather during the past week has continued to be of a most unprecedented character. On Tuesday night there was a remarkable fall of rain, which completely saturated the soil, and flooded some of the low standing houses in the town. Wednesday morning dawned with flickering streaks of sunshine shot down through rent and broken clouds; but a thick bank of dark clouds kept rising up from the westward, while the barometer was rapidly falling. Such phenomena, after a deluge of rain during the night, were sufficiently ominous. The wind had previously been blowing from the southward, but about eight o’clock it fell calm; and with remarkable suddenness and fury the storm burst forth from the north-west about nine o’clock. It is remarkable that at Aberdeen it had been raging for at least eight hours previously. In a few minutes the sea was lashed into fury, whole fields of stooks were laid prostrate, and the leaves on the trees were rent in tatters and sent spinning through the air. The gale first broke out from the north-west, but shifted round to the north, and from this point it blew with the greatest fury. There was a heavy rain-fall during most of the time, and with such force was it driven that comparatively few houses were completely waterproof. About noon the storm abated, the sun afterwards shone forth, and before evening the reapers were at work in the fields as if nothing particular had happened.
As will be seen from our local reports there has been considerable loss of property in the islands. We understand also that Mr Heddle’s yacht, and the sloop Victory of Banff have been driven ashore at Longhope; and a vessel is reported ashore at Dunnet Head. So far as yet ascertained no serious damage has happened to any Kirkwall vessel. The schooner Gipsy was caught in the String between Shapinshay and Carness Point, and had some injury done to her sails, but she got into Inganess Bay otherwise uninjured. The schooner Carpenter and the sloop Friend of Africa were known to be at sea on their way northward, but it is hoped they will be safe. The Friend, Capt. Smith, left Charleston for Zetland on Tuesday morning, but would likely be under shelter of the land. The Carpenter, Capt. Caithness, from Newcastle for Kirkwall, would probably be close to Orkney when the gale came on, but had not been heard of last night. All our other small coasters are believed to be safe. The Prince Consort steamer, on its way southwards, got into Aberdeen harbour just as the storm began, and remained there about sixteen hours.
Since Wednesday the weather has been deplorably unsettled. On Thursday afternoon a thunderstorm passed to the northwards of Kirkwall, and apparently at no great distance from the town; and during the night rain again fell heavily. On Sunday there was another strong gale from the westward accompanied with bitter blasts of cold rain and hail. During the night strong gusts of wind continued, with very heavy hail-showers. Yesterday the wind had moderated, but the weather was exceedingly cold, with heavy showers of hail, which seemed to portend the near approach of winter. The damage done to the crops cannot yet be estimated. It is believed that the accompanying rains would lessen the danger of shaking by the gales, but still there must have been considerable loss. There is much grain still uncut, and hardly ripe, and a large quantity is in stock. Indeed little or none of the oat crop has yet been secured…..
1860 October 23 Orkney Herald
THE SMACK “FRIEND OF AFRICA.” – We regret to state that no intelligence has yet been obtained concerning this vessel, which has been a-missing since the late severe gale.
HIGH TIDES. – The tides at Kirkwall have risen very high of late, sometimes as high as thirteen feet, owing, it is believed, to the stormy weather, and strong westerly winds.
THE MAILS AND PACKETS. – The stormy weather has of late made our mails from the south, as well as the packets from the islands, very irregular. From the south we had mails on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, the two first being each a day later than they should have been, in consequence of the high winds and the very rough sea to the westward. From Rousay and Sanday packets have arrived late in the week; but with Stronsay we have had no communication for a fortnight, and there is no immediate prospect for a change for the better.
[The typical packet ship was about two hundred feet long, with three masts and a bluff-bowed hull.]
THE HARVEST. – The past week has been extremely unfavourable for the harvest; hardly a sheaf has been got into the stackyard, and comparatively little has been cut. There is still probably two-thirds of the crop in Orkney exposed to the weather; and as the wind and heavy rains continue there seems no immediate prospect of its being secured. The soil is now thoroughly soaked with moisture, and in some cases the stooks are standing in large pools of water. Reapers may also be seen cutting oats although over the feet in moisture. Some of the crops cut are also very green, and almost no meat in them. This, however, is only on undrained or high lands, and is not general. The crop is in general very good, had it only been got in safely. There must be a good deal of damage done by the constantly soaked condition of both straw and grain; but the low temperature has prevented any sprouting; and should the weather settle in a short time there would not be so very much damage done. It is believed that after all deductions there will be an average crop, and the first ripe grain is said to be better than it was last year.
WESTRAY – THE WRECK. – On the morning of Sunday, the 7th current, a large bulk was observed floating off the west crags, to the southward of Noup Head, which, as it approached nearer, proved to be a vessel bottom uppermost, and floating high in the water. On approaching the cliff it was supposed the masts took the ground, and the ship broke up, covering the sea with masses of floating wreck. Timbers, beams, boards, part of the deck, stancheons, &c., &c., came ashore, also part of the wheel, which is made of mahogany with brass diamonds and stars alternately inserted; also some pieces of new wood 4 inches by 5, and from 12 to 14 feet long. After drifting off the coast for a day or two, a gale from the north drove the whole to the Southward. A great quantity of planks and short logs were seen which appear to have been the principal part of the cargo. Immense quantities of wood have since been floating round the north and west coasts of the island. A chart was observed floating among the timber, but it was not secured.
1860 October 30 Orkney Herald
THE WRECK OFF THE WESTRAY COAST. – It has now been ascertained that the name of the wreck off the island of Westray is the “W. W. Scott,” a Liverpool brig of 203 tons register, and is only twelve months old. Part of the stern came ashore on the island of Rousay, from which the name has been discovered. Without doubt the crew have all perished.
THE HARVEST – EVIE AND RENDALL. – The past week has done a great deal towards curing and securing the crop here. From the northerly exposure the parish of Evie and the north end of Rendall are generally behind-hand in harvest, There is a good deal to cut in both places yet. If we are favoured, however, with dry weather this week the cutting will be completed even on the latest farms. A good deal has been cut green in Evie, especially on the farms of Aikerness, Burgar, Flaws, and Quoys. In Outer-Evie and Costa the crop has advanced more rapidly and uniformly than in the former places, and a good deal has been secured, and in good condition. A couple of good days will finish the cutting in Rendall. Some of the farms in Evie will take the greater part of a week before they be cut off. In general, we understand that there will be no scarcity of fodder in the land this season, and we hope that the grain will prove better than is expected. Nothing worthy of mention has been lost by the high winds – the crops being too green in many instances to shake. On the days of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, there was a good deal of the crop carted in. An Octogenarian farmer said the other day – “Wee!, I’se tell you, am keeped a farm noo for aight-an’-fifety years, an’ I never saw a weeter saeson; an’ never biggit dryer vittel i’ me days – siskye noo!” (i.e., see ye now.) The turnip crop is generally good throughout Evie and Rendall with a few exceptions. The potatoes in Evie are generally free from disease, but through the wetness of the season are very soft and in many cases uneatable . They are pretty good where they are in dry ground. There has been great scarcity of pasture for cattle, and consequently stock is lower than would have been desirable, and the yield of milk and butter proportionally small. The cows on many farms are at present on their winter’s allowance of turnip and fodder.
1860 November 3 The Orcadian
ANOTHER PACKET FOR THE NORTH ISLES OF ORKNEY. – The spirited owners of the clipper yacht “Cyclops,” have placed this fine fast-sailing smack upon the berth to run bi-weekly between the island of Rousay and Kirkwall, calling at the intermediate places. Her arrangements for the accommodation of the public will be seen from our advertising columns, and cannot fail to be a boon to the inhabitants of North Pomona – Rousay, Egilsay, and Wyre, – by whom, we feel assured, every encouragement will be given. Our North Isles packets form a mercantile marine of no inconsiderable tonnage; and without referring to their fine moulds – most of them being clippers – but merely to their tonnage, if those crafts were now forthcoming, such as the “Codling,” the “Fisher,” &c., which used, 60 years ago, to sail between Leith or Newcastle and Kirkwall once in six or twelve months, the comparison would be all in favour of our present fleet of North Isles packets.
ROUSAY AND KIRKWALL PACKET
The fine fast sailing Clipper Smack, Cyclops, is now on the berth,
and will ply between Rousay and Kirkwall twice a-week – viz.
From the west side of Rousay to Kirkwall every Monday, calling
at Evie and Rendall going and returning; and from the east side
every Thursday, calling at Egilshay and Weir, going and returning.
Every attention paid to the comfort of passengers.
Ample accommodation for cattle and goods.
Fares and Freights moderate.
Apply to JOHN WOOD.
1860 November 6 Orkney Herald
THE FISHING. – Of late the burgh has been well supplied with fish of various kinds. Haddocks of very large size have been almost daily exposed for sale in the street; small cod has also been taken in considerable quantities, and about the close of last week sillocks were sold at the rate of twenty for a penny.
1860 November 13 Orkney Herald
ROUSAY – THE ROUSAY PACKET. – In reading the ‘Herald’ of the 23d ult., our attention was drawn to an announcement which, though not strictly correct at the time, has, we are happy to say, been most substantially realized. Under the head “Mails and Packets,” of that date, we noticed the arrival of the Rousay packet. At that time it must have been the embryo of the present one, which has since grown to maturity, and taken a substantial and comfortable body. The present packet, the Cyclops, the “sailings” of which are now advertised, well merited the encomium which we noticed with pleasure in your paper of 5th current, and is well entitled to the name of “The Rousay Packet.” It is well fitted in every respect, whether as regards accommodation or crew, to satisfy the requirements which the increasing prosperity of the island now demands. It is no small matter to be enabled to go to Kirkwall in safety, and comfort, and with something like speed, instead of going in what was dignified by the name of “Packet,” a thing warranted not to go; and the whole returns of which would be required to render her water tight. We sincerely hope and trust the “Cyclops” will meet with that encouragement which her captain and crew deserve.
THE HARVEST. – The harvest is now over, and everything, we believe, is gathered in in good condition, the weather latterly haring been very propitious.
SALVAGE OF WRECK. – On Thursday last deputies from H.M. Custom House came here for the purpose of selling “wreck,” both part of a vessel and drift timber. We understand it was nearly all disposed of to inhabitants of the island. There were certain transactions concerning the salvage which have given very great dissatisfaction here. We understand there is a statute by which in some cases half of the proceeds is ensured to the salvers; and, indeed, we are told the Custom House officer promised that the half would be allowed. Now, whatever be the law on the subject, parties have reason to be dissatisfied when they do not get what they were promised. It is said the officer promised a half provided his travelling expenses were paid; we do not see what bearing this has on the question. Besides, at one of the previous sales of wreck the half was allowed for salvage, and unless the law has been changed the same should have been allowed on the present occasion. It is of the greatest consequence that the regulations regarding salvage be printed for the information of the public, as men will hardly risk their lives for the sake of salving what may be of little use to them; and the reward for which may be increased or diminished according to the fancy of the official who takes charge of it. The regulations should be properly known, otherwise the officials may be taken advantage of in ways they will not much relish.
1860 November 24 The Orcadian
THE WEATHER. – The weather has been of a very unsettled character during the past week. Strong northerly and easterly winds with occasional showers of drizzling rain and snow, have been frequent, and cold has been unpleasantly felt by large numbers. Thursday was an exceedingly bad day, wet, stormy, and extremely cold, and the attendance in the two churches, from this cause, was somewhat thinner than it ordinarily is on like occasions. The mail due that day did not arrive, nor have we yet been favoured with a post – the last we had being Tuesday’s. Our columns are is this way without either late or latest news, so that between us and London we are this time distant by a whole week. The North Isles’ packets were detained till yesterday morning, when they all sailed for their respective islands. Yesterday the day cleared up beautifully, and while the evening was calm and still, a slight frost was felt in the air, and the stars above shone out with peculiar brightness.
1860 December 25 Orkney Herald
SNOW STORM. – We are now in the midst of a very severe snow-storm. After some, premonitory symptoms a considerable quantity of snow fell on Monday night, and more or less has fallen every day since. At times the wind has been high, and the snow has drifted in some places to a great depth. The frost also has been intense, and the cold has been much felt by old and poor people. The frost continues very keen, and there is, up to the time we write, no appearance of a change. During Sunday night a large quantity of snow fell, and being quite dry, and accompanied by a strong wind, it had drifted into all manner of fantastic shapes along our streets [of Kirkwall]. During the day the frost continued very intense. In the south there has been a great deal of snow. We are without our Edinburgh papers of Wednesday and Thursday owing to the blocking up of the roads; but have obtained Friday’s papers by the steamer. The railways had been all more or less blocked up, and the coaches in some places entirely stopped. In the north England the storm had been accompanied with thunder and lightning.
1860 December 29 The Orcadian
KIRKWALL – A JOLLY CHRISTMAS. – On Tuesday last, Christmas Day, our fishermen swept no fewer than 300 crans of sillocks ashore, for which they received the large sum of £26 5s. So large a sweep at one time has not occurred within the memory of the “oldest man.”
REGISTRATION OF BIRTHS. – By an alteration in the form of Registering Births, which takes effect from 1st January 1861, it will be necessary in registering the birth of a lawful child, to state also the place and date of the marriage of its parents. To prevent mistakes, it would be well that every person registering a birth should previously note in writing these two important particulars; more especially because if not inserted at the time, there appears to be no provision for the insertion of them afterwards, and the omission might suggest the awkward query whether there was a marriage at all.