In Print

Newsprint 1867 – 1868

1867 January 15 Orkney Herald

SEVERE SNOW-STORM. – For some days back the weather has been the wildest and worst we have yet experienced in the course of this dreadful winter. On the night of Thursday, after a bitter, frosty, nor’-east wind had blown all day, show began to fall, and it kept whirling on, with little intermission, for three days The heaviest fall took place between Sunday night and Monday morning, when the snow lay to the depth of three and four feet on the streets of Kirkwall, with mounds and barricades breast-high in many places where the drift had been greatest. In some parts of the town, such as East Road, the people were blocked up in their houses, and had some difficulty in digging themselves out in the morning. In the country districts the strong, searching wind had swept the fields bare of snow in exposed places, while in “lown” hollows and sheltered situations the drift lay to the depth of ten and twelve feet. Dr Kirkpatrick, in riding out on Saturday, plunged unexpectedly into a great wreath, and horse and rider quite disappeared for a time. People on country roads could make no headway against the more furious blasts, thick with drift and hailstones. There was a heavy sea around the islands, and postal communication was suspended. At the time of our going to press, no Edinburgh papers of later date than Tuesday last have arrived in Kirkwall. The steamer from Shetland is also a week overdue.

1867 March 12 The Orcadian

ROUSAY. SCHOOL EXAMINATION. – The Free Church School of Wasbister, taught by Mr James Campbell Bruce, was examined on Tuesday, the 26th Feb., by the Rev. Mr Rose, who was assisted by the Rev. Mr McLellan of the U.P. Church. The proceedings excited a great amount of interest in the district, and a large number of parents were present. Amongst others, we noticed Mrs Seatter of Saviskaill; Mrs George Gibson, Langskaill; Mrs Robert Gibson, sen., do.; Mrs Robert Gibson, jun., do.; Mrs John Gibson, do.; Mrs John Gibson, Vacquoy; Mrs Gibson, Quoys; Mrs Craigie, Hammer; Mrs Craigie, Turbitail; Mrs Craigie, Falquoy; Mrs Craigie, Deithe; Mrs Inkster, Innister; Mrs Marwick, Tou; Mr John Gibson, Langskaill; Mr and Mrs Sinclair, Stennisgorn, &c. The diligence and proficiency manifested by the pupils in the several branches of education, as elicited by the examination, which was of the most thorough description, fully sustain the reputation of Mr Bruce as a successful and painstaking teacher. There were nine competitors for the Dymock prize, and after a careful trial by written questions, James Robertson, son of Mr William Robertson, mason, Sourin, was found to be the successful candidate.

The Subscription School at Frotoft, Rousay, taught by Mr W. M. McLellan, was examined on Friday last by the Rev Messrs Rose, Reid of Firth, and MacLellan, in presence of several of the parents and others – Messrs G. Scarth, Marwick and Corsie, Mrs Sinclair, Marwick, Logie, Craigie and Miss Marwick. After a minute and searching examination of the different classes, the examiners expressed their great satisfaction with the accuracy of the reading, spelling, writing to dictation, and other branches included in the course of a sound English education. The scholars were then addressed by the Rev. Messrs Rose and Reid, who commended them for their diligence and progress, and the highly satisfactory manner in which they had acquitted themselves, an appearance reflecting the highest credit on themselves and their teacher. The prizes were then distributed as follows: –

Latin Class – John Scarth. First Grammar Class – Robert Clouston. Second ditto – 1st, George W. Scarth; 2nd Ann Marwick. Third ditto – Margaret Corsie. First Geography Class – John Scarth. Second ditto – 1st, Ann Craigie; 2nd, Ann Marwick. First Arithmetic Class – John Craigie. Second ditto – 1st, Ann Marwick; 2nd , Ann Craigie; 3rd, John Craigie. Third ditto – William Corsie and Mary Mainland equal. Dictation Class – John Scarth, John Craigie, and Robert Clouston, equal. First Writing Class – John Craigie. Second ditto – 1st, Geo. W. Scarth; 2rd, John Logie. Girls’ ditto – 1st, Margaret Corsie; 2rd, Anna Craigie. First Reading Class – Robert Clouston. Second ditto – 1st, Ann Marwick; 2nd, Ann Craigie; 3rd, John Logie. Third ditto – William Corsie. Fourth ditto – 1st, Robert Logie; 2nd, James Craigie. Fifth ditto – 1st, Mary Ann Wood; 2nd, William Logie. For General Diligence and Perseverance – James H. C. Sinclair.      

1867 March 19 Orkney Herald

THE MARCH STORM. – During the week the weather has continued very severe for the season, a bitter, frosty wind from the nor’-east, accompanied by occasional drifting showers of snow, having blown for several days. The relapse in the weather is very untimely, as it has put a stop to ploughing operations and other spring work in the fields.

1867 March 26 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – SCARCITY OF FODDER. – The “black island,” as it has often been called, is again partially clothed with a snowy covering. We have had more snow this year than for a great many years past. Field operations are in a rather backward state, and many are complaining of a scarcity of fodder.

STATE OF HEALTH – Owing to the unhealthy state of the weather, diseases have been very prevalent among old and young. Sore throats are common among the young people, and croup has been very frequent of late, proving fatal in some cases.

MR McLELLAN preached in the Free Church on the afternoon of the last two Sabbaths, Mr Rose being absent from the island.

1867 April 30 Orkney Herald

THE SEASON AND FARM WORK. – The month now closing has been the worst April experienced in the memory of the living generation. Up to almost its last day there has been a succession of icy, blasting winds, accompanied by frequent falls of rain, which drenched the fields and rendered them quite unfit for the reception of seed. The season of spring is ended, while the greater portion of the ordinary spring-work on farms yet remains to be done. Fields, on which we might have expected by this time to see the glimmering of the green braird, are still unsown, although farmers have endeavoured to make the most and best of the unpropitious weather. For some days last week the wind had a piercing, frosty chill in it, as if it had come from Arctic ice-floes in the wake of the Diana. On Sunday there was a marked change in the feel of the air, but the wind yesterday had chopped round to its old “snell” quarter, and May-day scarcely promises to usher in a genial tract of summer weather.

[The Diana was a steam-powered whaler. During a whale expedition in Baffin Bay in 1866, the ship became frozen in the ice, where it was trapped for over six months. The ship’s captain, John Gravill, and many of the crew died.] 

1867 May 28 Orkney Herald

QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY. – Friday last was observed as the anniversary of Her Majesty’s Birthday in Kirkwall and Stromness. At Kirkwall the great attraction was the Volunteer review, and the number of country visitors gave a lively appearance to the streets. From Rousay and some of the neighbouring islands boats came laden with freights of holiday-makers. Some of the townspeople took advantage of the closing of their places of business to enjoy boating excursions or country drives. In the evening, after the island and Mainland corps had left town for their respective destinations, the streets soon lapsed into their usual quiet state, and the juveniles, like the Volunteers, forgot to burn gunpowder.

1867 June 4 The Orcadian

We are beginning to console ourselves with the idea that the weather has commenced a change for the better. Since the month of September last year we have had a continuation of bad, cold, stormy, chilly disagreeable days, without a single bright, sunny interval to cheer the hearts of a drooping humanity. But with May, the appearance of things has somewhat altered – true a raw, north wind, occasionally makes the flesh creep, but we are nevertheless thankful for the few warm days we have had, and specially with the prospect which these give us, of having many more before our short summer draws to a close.

1867 June 18 The Orcadian

THE LATE GALE. – The gale on the morning of the 10th inst , which equalled in violence the fiercest of our winter wind-storms, did considerable damage in many of the gardens in and around Kirkwall. Several fruit trees, carrying full sail of leaves, were battered and broken clown, and the very flowers, in more exposed situations, were uprooted by the will swirl of the blast. Leaves were stripped from the trees as by an October gale, and those which succeeded in surviving the storm presented a sickly appearance.

CATTLE TRADE. – The want of grass, caused by the backward state of the season, has had a very depressing effect on the cattle trade. Lean cattle are almost unsaleable, and the few transactions that take place are chiefly confined to fat animals. The dealers have abstained from visiting the North Isles this season, and several large herds in Stronsay, Rousay, and other islands remain untouched. Although fodder is now said to be abundant in the Lowlands, the northern counties, where the most of the dealers reside who visit Orkney, continue deficient in grass, and the demand for grazing cattle is therefore dull.

1867 July 2 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – WEATHER AND FIELDS. – The weather has for some weeks been variable, easterly winds however prevailing. To-day everything bears the aspect of summer, and eye and ear are refreshed by the luxuriant appearance of the rising braird, and the melodious notes of the favourite lark.

THE GRUB. – Turnip sowing is about finished for this season, and although grub has appeared to a slight extent, serious results are not apprehended.

COLONEL BURROUGHS, our proprietor, has supplied all his tenants in Rousay and Weir with lime for whitewashing and sanitary purposes.

COD-FISHING has been decidedly unsuccessful, and lobsters have been very scarce.

BIRTHS. – At Essaquoy, Rousay, on the 18th ult., the wife of Mr Robert Marwick, jun., of a daughter.

DEATHS. – At Whitemeadows, Wasbister, Rousay, Alexander Sabiston, aged 4 years.

At Knarston, Rousay, on the 13th ult., Isabella, youngest daughter of Mr John Gibson, farmer, aged 22 months.

At Lee, Sourin, Rousay, on the 17th ult., Mr William Logie, sen., at an advanced age.

1867 July 16 Orkney Herald

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BURROUGHS of Rousay and Veira, who is at present stationed with the 93rd or Sutherland Highlanders at Nynee Tal in the North-Western Provinces of India, will remove to Jhansi, Bundeleund,  in the beginning of September.

1867 July 30 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – THE CROPS. – The weather for the last week has been propitious for the crops, and they have made considerable progress. Turnips are looking well on some farms, and hoeing is begun generally.

HERRING FISHING. – On Monday our boats left for the Stronsay herring fishing. May success follow them as heretofore!

COMMUNION SERVICE. – The Communion was observed in the U.P. Church here on the 21st inst., when the Rev. J. McLellan was assisted by the Rev. N. P. Rose, of the Free Church, who preached on Saturday and on Sabbath afternoon; and Monday by Mr Isaac E. Marwick, student, who made a highly creditable appearance, treating his subjects in masterly style. The church, though well filled during the forenoon, was crowded to excess in the afternoon by people from the other churches curious to hear a native preacher.

[Isaac, born in June 1844, was the son of Isaac Marwick and Betsy Yorston, Guidal, Sourin, and was later a minister in Kirkcaldy.]

1867 August 13 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – August 7. – Mr Isaac Marwick, student, preached in the Free Church here on Sabbath to a crowded congregation. He is a promising young man. It will be two or three years before his education will be completed.

CROPS. – The crops are far behind; they are nearly a month behind last year.

FISHING. – Our fishermen were not very successful at the cod fishing, but they are appearing to do better at the herring fishing; some of our boats were as high as 54 crans, the lowest about 5 crans.

THE 12TH. – The grouse season opened yesterday, when some eager sportsmen were early afoot. Hoy and Rousay are now the two principal sporting stations in the islands, but this season’s prospects are not very favourable. Some sportsmen arrived by the Queen steamer last week. We understand that the Rousay shootings are occupied by a brother of Colonel Burroughs, the proprietor of the island, and a nephew of George Traill, Esq., M.P.

1867 September 3 The Orcadian

ROUSAY. – CROPS are looking well and making great progress, under the influence of delightful weather.

With the exception of a very few boats, the fishing has not done much for us this season.

1867 September 17 Orkney Herald

ECLIPSE OF THE MOON. – The passengers by the St Magnus steamer on Friday night enjoyed, on the midnight deck, a fine view of the eclipse of the moon and the striking effects, in the changing lines of cloud and sky, produced by the gradual obscuration of the luminary. At the time of the deepest shade, when seven-tenths of the moon’s disk was covered, the sky presented an unusual appearance, and the streaks of Aurora on the northern horizon seemed In emit a faint, yellowish, sickly light. From its commencement to its culminating point the eclipse was watched with interest from the hurricane deck, which afforded a fine ‘coigne of vantage’ for observing the phenomenon.

1867 October 1 The Orcadian/Orkney Herald

ROUSAY. MELANCHOLY CASE OF SUICIDE. – The inhabitants of this island were thrown into a state of excitement on Saturday week last, the 21st ult., by the intelligence that a young man belonging to the west side, Alexander Logie, had committed the rash deed of suicide by throwing himself over the rocks at Saviskaill Head the previous day. The deceased, who was a son of the late Alex. Logie, well known in this town as a boatman plying between Kirkwall and Westness, was employed as a farm-servant with Mr Seatter, of Saviskaill. He was considered a diligent and faithful servant, and had given satisfaction to his employer. There seems to be some difficulty in accounting for the terrible deed, as no adequate cause is known; indeed it was some time ere suspicion was aroused. From what we have heard it appears that some slight difference had originated between him and one of the other servants respecting harvest work. His master had arranged that he should be employed in binding, but to this he had some objections, when, in the kindest way possible, Mr Seatter, to secure harmony between the harvest hands, then arranged that both the young men should take on alternate days the cutting and binding. The other lad had readily complied with this arrangement and the work proceeded the first day, but on beginning the next day the deceased refused to give up the scythe, and added that rather than bind he would give up his place. Nothing more passed; he retired to the house, and was seen in his room by one of the other servants engaged in writing, and about noon of Friday the 20th, after packing up all his clothes and locking them in his chest, he went out and was observed to go in the direction of the Head. Little was thought of this, as it was considered that he wished to go round by the shore to his mother’s house, not liking to be observed leaving by the people of the district. An inquiry being made the next day and no trace of him found, it was decided to open his chest, when certain writings were found which at once led to the conclusion that he had perpetrated the crime of suicide. The body of the unfortunate man has not yet been found. He was dressed, when last seen, in twill jacket, moleskin trowsers, black vest and cravat.

[Alexander Logie, the son of boatman and merchant Alex. Logie and his second wife Barbara Murray, was born in 1849. They lived at Quoygrinnie, on the Westside. The ‘certain writings’ alluded to above were not disclosed within the columns of The Orcadian – but were in the Orkney Herald:-]

…..On enquiry being made next day, and no trace of him being found, it was decided to open his chest, when letters, written to his mother and sweetheart on six pages of tinted notepaper, were discovered, and led to the conclusion that he had perpetrated the crime of suicide. The following is an exact transcript of the letters:-

(No 1 Sheet)

‘Alexander Logie

‘Dear Mother,

‘When you see this you Remember how your Son did he is going to his father It is Master Seater that is doing It was agreed for a sigh [scythe] and he would not do it Dear I now must drown myself for my gref is more than I can bare If my corps Is found you Bury me Beside father this is what I am due Mr James Grevie 9s Magnus flace William Craigie Course you know the rest – tell my brothers and my sisters to seek Jesus for I was a grate Sinner Now mother you will sell my clothes as much as cleare my det and give the Rest to John Master Seatter is due me £3 10 that is clearing for all things and clearing for John due keep my likeness to yourself and when you die give it to Eliza Oliver tell John to Seek Jesus So good By to you Dear  mother I had no friends in Saviskeal Miss Ann Mowat tell her I dearely love her and love her to the end Now you all I wish You good By and may you all fall asleep in Jesus the tears could wish your face der mother tell that man that said I Run Master Seater’s horse I mind it all – Alexander Logie.’

(No 2 Sheet.)

‘Give this to Ann Mowat and tell her What way all this lies Is Based upon me and you they will answer for It now dear An I leave my kin I love to you this Is my own write I hope to see you in heaven Master promised me a sight [scythe] As I have this pen in my hand I Love you to the end give my love to the Shepherd and to David Inkster and to Both their Sisters this Is to Ann Mowat Dear Love I now must digh you Remember this Magnus Clouston was as great an enemy I had don’t court with him for my sake – Alexander Logie.’

1867 October 15 Orkney Herald

BODY WASHED ASHORE. – On Saturday fortnight the body of a man, stripped of all clothing except a cravat round the neck, was found lying on the beach at Bellyquoy in Aikerness, island of Westray. The body was buried but subsequently exhumed, when a post-mortem examination was made by Dr Kirkpatrick, at the instance of the Procurator Fiscal. We understand that the body was not identified as that of Alexander Logie, who recently committed suicide by leaping into the sea from the cliffs of Saviskaill in the island of Rousay.

1867 November 5 The Orcadian

ROUSAY – Nov 2. ROUGH WEATHER. – By the roughness of the weather the potato and grain crops are much damaged. The heavy winds and hail about the first of October took off nearly a seed of the white oats and of the bere which was uncut at the time. But, in addition to the damage it received by the shake, it has got nearly as much damage standing in the fields as stooks, the tops of them being half thrashed with the heavy winds and hail, and some of it sprouting. It has got so rank after being so much watered that it can hardly be handled without loss of grain. People, or rather farmers, now-a-days have nearly forsaken the good old plan of scrueing*, which would have been of great advantage in such a harvest as this.

[*A small stack of sheaves, when crop was wet, built in stack when dry, sometimes straight in on the buckrake for a dinnertime sheave for the kye! I am reliably informed they fairly like it! – 20% of a proper stack maybe, built slightly different, sheaves more on end to dry quicker].

1867 November 12 The Orcadian

THE LATE CASE OF SUICIDE AT ROUSAY. – Many extraordinary rumours, alleging foul play, and involving serious consequences to parties concerned, having been circulated in connection with this sad occurrence, we believe we are justified in stating that there is no foundation whatever for any such statements. It will be remembered that the body was washed ashore at Westray.

[The last sentence of this paragraph in The Orcadian was made despite the post-mortem and its findings printed in the Orkney Herald stating that the body was in fact not that of the young man in question]

1867 December 10 The Orcadian

THE LATE GALES. – We have good reason to fear that the first week of December, 1867, will be long remembered by many connected with those “who go down to the sea in ships;” and that many widows and fatherless children will have to lament the loss of their natural protectors by the violent storms which visited us last week. The wreck register will be fearfully swollen if we can believe – and we know no reason to do otherwise – the accounts which have reached us from all parts of our land.

But while we cannot refrain from lamenting the untimely end of so many fellow creatures, who have been swept from time into eternity with such brief warning, we have cause for thankfulness that desolation and bereavement has not been permitted to visit our immediate midst as was feared would have been the case. That fear, however, has been dispelled by the safe return of the missing ones.

ROUSAY. – Thanksgiving services for the harvest were held in the Free and U.P. Churches in Rousay on Wednesday last, the 4th inst. A severe gale visited this place on Sabbath and Monday week, but fortunately no accident occurred to any of the boats.

1868 January 7 Orkney Herald

ENHALLOW AND WIRE. – The two islands of Enhallow and Wire, lying at opposite extremities of the swift-flowing Sound that separates Rousay from the Mainland possess some features of interest though small in superficial extent. There is a fine old-world aroma in the name Enhallow, which is a corruption of the Norse Eyinhalga, or Holy Isle. The islet, once a chosen retreat of the Culdee fathers, is only about one mile in circumference, and has continued uninhabited for upwards of fifteen years. In the summer months it affords fine pasturage for sheep and cattle, and presents a pleasant green appearance when surveyed from the Rousay or Evie side of the Sound. Between the island and the coast of the Mainland, there is a strong and dangerous roost, which roars, like a rocky river, at ebb tide. On the families who once inhabited it leaving the island, the remains of an old chapel were discovered, part of which has been made to do service as a stable or cowhouse. Sir Henry Dryden has given an account of the chapel in his notes on the ecclesiastical antiquities of Orkney. As the transition existed that Enhallow was once a favourite haunt of the Irish anchorites, search has been made, at various times, but with indifferent success, for vestiges of the ancient cells. The spots on the south side of the island pointed out as the probable haunts of the old hermits are believed to bear a suspicious resemblance to deserted plantie cruives. The Rev. Isaac Taylor was, therefore, scarcely accurate when he stated, in his ‘Words and Places,’ that at Enhallow and at one of the Papas in the Orkneys the ancient cells are still preserved. But even without any vestige of cells now remaining, the Norse name of Eyinhalga affords evidence enough that the island was once a favourite retreat of the missionary hermits, who first brought the softening influences of Christianity to bear on the fierce Scandinavians. The name given by the Norsemen to the anchorite fathers was Papar, and this word still lives in the nomenclature of Orkney and Shetland. We have an indication of the superstitions associated with the memories of the hermits in the long-prevalent popular belief that neither cats, rats, nor mice could exist in the isle of Enhallow.

The island of Wire, at the opposite extremity of the Sound, lies low and secluded between the high hills of Rousay on the north and Gairsay on the south. At the present day it is variously known by the names of Wire, Weir, and Veira, while with Buchanan it was Vira, and with Torfaeus, Foreroe. The island, now the property of Colonel Burroughs, is about two miles in length and one in breadth. From its secluded situation amid higher islands it is apt to escape the notice of summer tourists, but its antiquities possess attractions for the students of Norse history. In common with most of the other islands, Wire can boast the remains of an old chapel, but it also contains the ruins of the castle of Cubberow, which occupy a piece of rising ground. This castle makes some figure in Norse annals, and the great Danish historiographer preserves the name of its founder. It was built by Kolbein Ruga, who collected the King of Norway’s corn, or scatt-tax in Orkney, and who was considered to be a youth of great spirit in those stirring times. Kolbein built the castle very strong, and made it fit to stand a siege. His wife was Sterbiorg, and their children were – Kolbein, surnamed Karl; Biarn the Scald, sometime Bishop of Orkney; Summerlid and Aslac; and a daughter named Frula. The family, the annalists tell us, were highly esteemed, and there can be no doubt that Kolbein Ruga – collector of the king’s corn and father of a poetical bishop – would hold a high head among the Orkney magnates. About a century after it was built the stronghold of the then defunct Kolbein was seized by Hanef, another collector of the king’s revenue in Orkney, who took part in the conspiracy which ended in the death of Earl John. The friends of the assassinated earl laid siege to the castle of Cubberow, which Hanef had seized, but the siege made very little progress, and it was at last agreed, through the mediation of Kolbein of Rendall and others, to conclude a truce all winter, and refer the controversy to King Hacon on the following summer. We do not find in Torfaeus any further notice taken of the old stronghold in the island of Wire, but the glimpses we have of its history suffice to show that it witnessed scenes of warfare and wassail over a course of centuries.

1868 January 14 Orkney Herald

NEW YEAR WEATHER. – The weather since the beginning of the year, and indeed for a week or two previously, has been remarkably quiet and settled for the season. It is scarcely possible to conceive a greater contrast than the commencement of 1867 and the early days of 1868. At the beginning of last year the weather was so terribly severe that great distress prevailed in many quarters, while this season the moderate and temperate weather has not hitherto interfered with the prosecution of out-door labour. Farmers are making rapid progress with field-work, and fishermen are seldom so fortunate in getting a lengthened succession of quiet days at this season of the year.

1868 January 28 The Orcadian

ROUSAY. – We have had beautiful weather for the last two or three weeks. The farmers here were very busy at out-door work. The fishermen were also very busy but not very successful.

New Year’s Day was held by the new style here this year. Some of the young people amused themselves at the football; others had a saunter round the Island.

Last week was set apart here for prayer; it was commenced at half past six o’clock each evening, and was very well attended – the fine weather and moonlight being very suitable to the occasion.

The oats are turning out very badly this year. Out of what we would generally got 8 bolls we cannot get above 5 or 5½ at the highest.

1868 February 11 The Orcadian

ROUSAY. – We had a very heavy gale here from the south on 24th January – the heaviest we have had from that direction for the last 20 years. February commenced with gales, and as yet has almost continued so. On the 5th we had a very heavy storm, the like of which we have not experienced since the one that raged so furiously on the 18th and 19th of December 1862. There is not much damage done as far as we have heard; only our mail boat is considerably damaged, but is still repairable. Many of the farmers were busily employed in their stackyards all night, while the storm raged threatening to take all before it. The packet “Osprey” was moored in the bay of Holm, and had a great deal of goods on board, which was shipped on Monday, when the wind sprung up, had to put back, and was glad to get such a harbour. On the west side of Rousay, where it is so much exposed to the heavy surge of the Atlantic, it covered some of the meadows on the farm of Westness. A considerable quantity of fish was driven ashore on this part of the island, including cod, ling, cuthes, and sow fish; some say there were 4 or 5 cwt., but we do not know the exact quantity. Some of the cod measured about two feet in length, and were alive and jumping on the beach.

1868 February 18 Orkney Herald

THE FIRST VOICE OF SPRING. – On two days last week we had mild, calm, spring-like weather, presenting a pleasant contrast to the previous three weeks’ of continuous rains and violent storms. The mavis [song thrush] was heard for the first time this season in the plantations of Binscarth on Wednesday morning, and on the same day some of the livelier larks accompanied their flight with brief snatches of song. If the Orkney lark be migratory, as strangely stated by Mr Robert Dunn, in his little book on the ornithology of the islands, it must possess a strength beyond its size in being able to fight its way northward amid tempestuous weather in the depth of winter.

1868 February  25 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – WEATHER AND FARM WORK. – The weather for some weeks’ past has been very stormy indeed, wind and rain in rapid succession, with only glimpses of sunshine occasionally. For the last few days, however, it has taken a favourable change, and farmers are busily employed in out-door labour. Straw and turnips, in most cases are abundant, but the oats, in consequence of a late and stormy harvest are somewhat deficient.

WASBISTER DISTRICT. – For the last month or so Mr James Leonard has been teaching music in this district, a want much experienced by the young people especially in the Sabbath School. But having taken a deep interest in the matter this year a class was formed, and Mr Leonard’s services secured. Owing to his exertions we understand his scholars have made rapid progress in the tonic Sol-Fa notation so much so that some five or six passed a rigid examination for the elementary certificate of music. Mr Leonard’s qualifications, as a music teacher, are well known throughout the country, and we can only say that he deserves much credit for the manner in which he conducted his class here, enlivening his scholars almost nightly by singing some favourite piece.

1868 March 3 Orkney Herald

THE WEATHER. – During the week the weather has been very changeable, calm and storm alternating in striking contrast. The opening day of March was wild and wintry. A cold, searching wind blew from morning till night, accompanied by frequent showers of hail and snow. The irregularity of the steamer and mails still continues with little prospect of improvement till the weather undergoes a change for the better. []

BIRTHS. – At Myres, Rousay, on the 18th ult., the wife of Mr John Gibson, of a daughter. [John Gibson was married to Lydia Craigie. They named their new daughter Agnes].

At Roadside, Rousay, on the 23rd ult., the wife of Mr David Inkster, of a daughter. [Boat builder David Inkster, Saviskaill, Roadside (Maybank), later Brittany, was married to Janet Gibson, Sketquay. They also named their daughter Agnes].

At Hurteso, Rousay, on the 25th ult., the wife of Mr James Stevenson, of a son. [Farmer of 30 acres at Hurtiso, James Stevenson was married to Margaret Gibson. Robert was the name they chose for their new son].

At Wesdale, Rousay, on the 25th ult., the wife of Mr William Reid, of a daughter. [Joiner William Reid was married to Catherine Baikie. Sadly, their new daughter, who they named Lydia, died in infancy].

1868 March 31 Orkney Herald

EXAMINATION OF THE FREE CHURCH SCHOOL AT WASBISTER. – This school taught by Mr James Campbell Bruce, was examined on Friday the 20th inst. by the Rev. Mr Robb of Deerness, Rev. Mr McLellan of the U.P. Church, Rousay, and the Rev. Mr Rose, F.C. Church, Rousay. There was a large attendance of parents and other friends interested in the education of the young. Among others we observed Mrs [Jane] Seatter of Saviskaill; Mr [George] and Mrs [Ann] Learmonth of Westness; Miss Cockburn, Governess, Old Manse; Mrs John Gibson, Miss Gibson, and Mr Robert Gibson, jun. of Langskaill; Mrs [Janet] Gibson, Quoys; Mrs [Barbara] Gibson, sen., Vacquoy; Mrs [Rebekah] Inkster, sen., Cogar; Mr [Hugh] and Mrs [Isabella] Sinclair, Stennisgorn; Mr William Craigie, Cogar; Mrs [Jane] Craigie, Hammer; Mr John Craigie, Deithe; Mrs [Eliza] Inkster, Innister; Mrs [Ann] Craigie, Turbitail; Mrs [Ann] Craigie, Falquoy; and Mrs [Margaret] Gibson, Burness. There was a good muster of young people, and they acquitted themselves to the entire satisfaction of the reverend examiners. The examination lasted fully four hours. At the close Messrs Robb and McLellan severally addressed the scholars and paid them a well-merited compliment for the excellent appearance they had made. Special notice was taken of the proficiency in spelling manifested by all the classes, both viva voce and to dictation. The specimens of writing exhibited were likewise pronounced remarkably good. The result of the whole examination reflected the highest credit both on teacher and scholars. Mr Bruce continues to maintain the character which he has justly earned as being a diligent, painstaking, and successful teacher of youth. Prizes were awarded through the kindness of Mr Rose in addition to the Dymock Bible. The following are the names of the successful winners:

First Reading Class – David Inkster, Ploverhall. Second do. – Robert Gibson, Langskaill. Third do. – Lydia Craigie, Turbitail. Fourth Reading do. – Elizabeth Craigie, Cogar. Jun. Arithmetic do. – Margaret Alexander, Lingro. Senior do. do.- Jemima Craigie, Hammer. Third do. do. – Elizabeth Craigie, Cogar. Geography do. – Mary Jane Gibson, Langskaill. Dictation do. James Kirkness, Quoyostray. Mental Arithmetic – James Sinclair, Stennisgorn. English Grammar – Mary Jane Gibson, Langskaill. Latin (Caesar) – John Gibson, Langskaill. Writing (Boys) – James Robertson, Crey. Writing (Girls) – 1 Annie Craigie, Turbitail; 2 Anne Marwick, Tou.

For the Dymock Prize Bible there appeared six candidates, and after a thorough searching examination, conducted by written questions, the successful candidate was found to be Anne Craigie, Turbitail. Next in order of merit was Mary Jane Gibson. The correctness of the answers given drew forth the admiration of the examiners – evincing a praiseworthy knowledge of sacred scriptures on the part of all the candidates. The questions were confined to the Book of Acts, according to previous arrangement. The full value of all the questions was 130 and the successful candidate’s paper amounted to 100, while the next in order of merit was 95. After Mr Rose had thanked the audience for their kind attendance the interesting proceedings which were opened with prayer by Mr McLellan were brought to a close by Mr Robb who pronounced the benediction.

SPRING COMMUNION. – The communion was observed in the Free Church in this island on the 22nd inst. when the Rev. Mr Rose was assisted by the Rev. W. D. Robb, A.M. of Deerness who also preached on the Fast-day, and also on Saturday, Sunday evening, and Monday. Mr Robb also kindly preached a sermon to the young on the evening of the Fast-day. The attendance at all diets of worship was good, considering the wintry character of the weather.

1868 April 7 Orkney Herald

FARM WORK. – Throughout the greater part of last week the weather was favourable for sowing operations. The saying that ‘a peck of March dust is worth a peck of gold’ might also be applied to April. At the close of the week and on Sunday there were heavy falls of rain which would not improve the state of the soil for the reception of seed.

1868 April 14 Orkney Herald

THE TINKER NUICANCE. – We have received information from correspondents that the tinker nuisance is becoming quite unendurable in the country districts of the Mainland and also in several of the islands. From the West. Mainland there are complaints that so many as twenty tinkers are to be found camping in one place, and a force so formidable as this becomes a terror as well as an annoyance to people who live in solitary farms and cottages. We are not surprised that the tinkers who make Orkney their favourite haunt, are said to be increasing in numbers, since the female tramps are almost invariably seen with one or two dingy, tiny tinkers hanging in kangaroo-like pouches on their backs. An edict of wholesale banishment would be the most effectual way of disposing of them, but until this is obtained it might be possible to mitigate the evil by employing the police to break up any large gangs when they are reported as camping or squatting in any district. Something might also be done to prevent the tinkers from circulating so freely in boats between the different islands.

1868 May 5 The Orcadian

ROUSAY – A LAMB WITH TWO HEADS. – A ewe belonging to Mr William Louttit, Faraclett, Rousay, has had a lamb with two heads.

FARMING. – Farmers are very busy here at this season. Oat sowing is near about completed. Some of the farmers have commenced potato planting, and peat cutting is commenced.

FISHING. – Our big boats have resumed their summer fishing. The small boats have not done much this year. This has been rather a hard winter and spring, both on the fishermen and farmers, but we hope it will be taking a turn.

1868 June 23 Orkney Herald

MIDSUMMER STORM. – On Wednesday last a strong gale, more like a tropical tornado than an Orkney summer wind, blew with great violence from the south-west, and left traces of its fury in fields and gardens. The leaves of trees, exposed to the full sweep of the wind, presented a blackened appearance after the gale, and all kinds of vegetables, except in sheltered situations, suffered to some extent. On some fields newly-laid turnip-drills were quite blown away. Fine weather, however, has succeeded the storm, Friday last being the warmest day we have yet experienced this season.

1868 June 23 The Orcadian

ASSAULT ON THE COLONEL OF THE 93rd IN INDIA. – Colonel Burroughs of the 93rd Highlanders, proprietor of the islands of Rousay and Wire, was visiting a mosque in Lucknow, on the 18th ult., and went up the steps, intending to ascend one of the lofty minarets, from which an excellent view of the town may he obtained. His progress was, however, arrested, at the top of the steps by the Darogah of the mosque, who addressed him in the ‘most offensive and grossly provoking language.’ Colonel Burroughs explained his object, when the man again spoke to him in such disrespectful language that the Colonel lost his temper and struck him. The Darogah then called for assistance, when some thirty of forty of the hangers-on about the temple attacked Colonel Burroughs with bamboos and latees. After receiving a severe beating, he managed to escape to the buggy, but his pursuers followed him, cut the reigns of his buggy, and beat the sycee. The Darogah has been sentenced to only one month’s hard labour in irons.

1868 September 8 Orkney Herald

THE HARVEST. – There were some fine reaping days last week, and harvest operations were briskly prosecuted. The crops are now being rapidly cut down all over the islands. In the immediate neighbourhood of Kirkwall there are a great many fields in stooks. One of the peculiarities of the present harvest is that the oats, in several instances, have taken precedence of the bere in cutting, which is a somewhat unusual occurrence.

BODY FOUND. – Our Eday correspondent reports that the body of a boy, far gone in decomposition, was found off the point of Warness on Tuesday. Owing to the decayed state of the remains, identification was impossible, and they were interred on the evening of the same day. It is not stated by our correspondent that any boy belonging to the island was recently drowned, but the body, which seemed to have been long in the water, had probably been carried a considerable distance.

1868 September 22 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – WEATHER AND HARVEST. For some time past the weather has been propitious for the cutting and ingathering of the crop. Some districts are far advanced in taking the crop into the yard. Grain is thought to be an average, although fodder will be scarce owing to the drought in summer.

PROFESSOR MARTIN has again favoured us with a visit. He has preached with much acceptance in the Wasbister district, also in the Established Church on Sabbath forenoon, and the Free Church in the afternoon, and also in the U. P. Church on Tuesday evening.

F. C. TRAILL, Esq., from London, who has had the shooting in the Rousay hills for some years past, is at present residing in Westness House. By his affable disposition has gained the esteem of all with whom he has come in contact.

BODY FOUND. The body referred to by your Eday correspondent in a late paper, which was found off Warness, is said to be that of Robert Inkster, son of Robert Inkster, Swartifield, who is thought to have fallen over the dangerous Leeon rocks in this island.

1868 October 6 The Orcadian

ROGUES AND VAGABONDS. – On Thursday, the new Act on rogues and vagabonds came into force. Persons playing or betting in the streets with coins and cards are now amenable to the 5th Geo. IV., c.83. and may be committed as rogues and vagabonds.

1868 October 13 Orkney Herald

WRECK REGISTER AND CHART FOR 1867. – It appears from the annual Wreck Register of the British Isles, just published under the auspices of the Board of Trade, that 2513 shipwrecks, representing a registered tonnage of upwards of 464,000 tons, took place on the seas and on the coasts of Great Britain during the past year, with a loss of 1333 lives; and that, taking the average of the last nine years, no less than 1961 shipwrecks have annually occurred on our shores. Of the 2513 wrecks which took place during the past year, 2113 are known to have been ships belonging to Great Britain and its colonies, with British certificates of registry, and 338 are known to have been those of foreign ships. Of the remaining 62 wrecked vessels the country and employment are unknown. Of the British ships, 1551 were employed m the British coasting trade, and 562 were employed in the (over-sea) foreign and home trade. 0f the foreign ships, 17 were employed in the British coasting trade. Of the vessels lost, or damaged in 1867, 89 were rigged as ships, 141 were steamships, 727 schooners, 429 brigs, 277 barques, 287 brigantines, and 241 smacks; the remainder were small vessels rigged in various ways. Of the 2513 vessels referred to, 1147 did not exceed 100 tons burden, 961 were from 100 to 300 tons. 286 were from 300 to 600 tons, and 119 only were above 600 tons burden. The scenes of the disasters are thus given:- East coast 1101; south coast, 259; west coast, 411; north-west coast of Scotland, 46; Irish coast, 214; Isle of Man 22; Lundy Island, 18; and Scilly, 19. It will be observed that, as usual, the greatest number of wrecks occurred on the east coast. The number of lives lost (1333) is in excess of the number lost in any year except 1859 (the Royal Charter year), when the number reached 1647. The work of the National Lifeboat Institution here stands prominently forward, for it can show a glorious roll of 1086 lives saved mainly through instrumentality during the past year. The loss of Property, including ships and cargoes alone can hardly be represented at less than three millions sterling. The National Lifeboat Institution has hitherto unceasingly and untiringly discharged the duty which the British public has with such confidence and generosity reposed in it. We therefore think it is only legitimate and right that we should again appeal to the country at large to help a society which has thus charged itself with the great and national work of saving lives from shipwreck, by lifeboats and other means, in carrying out with renewed vigour its sacred duty.

1868 November 10 Orkney Herald

PREMATURE WINTER. – During the greater part of last week the weather was extremely boisterous. Strong sharp winds blew from the north, accompanied by showers of hail, sleet and rain. In consequence of the stormy state of the weather there were only two mail deliveries throughout the week. On Saturday a considerable quantity of snow fell, giving the entire country a mid-winter aspect at the beginning of November.

1868 November 24 Orkney Herald

COUNTY AND BURGH ELECTIONS. – The nomination of a Member to represent Orkney and Shetland in Parliament will take place at the hustings in Kirkwall tomorrow (Wednesday). The hustings have been in progress of erection for some days. The polling for the County will take place on Wednesday and Thursday week. Today the nomination for the Northern Burghs takes place at Wick, and the polling is fixed for Friday. There will be a clear field for the county fight when the burgh contest is got out of the way this week.

THE COUNTY CONTEST. – The two Candidates have moved about a good deal during the week. On returning from Shetland – where he held a meeting of his supporters, and met a most encouraging reception – Mr [Frederick] Dundas [Liberal] visited some of the North Isles, and addressed an enthusiastic meeting in Sanday, where a motion proposing him as a fit and proper person to represent the county in Parliament was carried unanimously. A similar motion was carried at South Ronaldshay on Friday, where Mr Dundas addressed another capital meeting. Mr [Henry]  Riddell [Conservative] has visited Stronsay, Sanday, Westray, Eday, and Rousay, and has suffered considerably under the heckling process. The questions put to him have certainly brought out his special unfitness to represent any intelligent self respecting Constituency in Parliament. He has devoted the whole of his attention to the rural districts where the lairds have most influence, and the town electors he does not seem disposed to address at all until compelled to make the attempt on the nomination day.

1868 December 1 Orkney Herald

MR RIDDELL AT ROUSAY – THE TORY BUBBLE BURST AGAIN. – On the morning of Friday the inhabitants of Rousay were surprised on observing the steamer Orcadia approaching Milbourne, and when it became known that Mr Riddell, the Tory candidate, was on board, an unusual stir was the result in the district of Sourin. The redoubtable “Turncoat John,” of Kirkwall, was landed, and while the Tory candidate proceeded with the steamer to Westray, John busied himself in making arrangements for a meeting, and scout was dispatched in all directions, calling out the electors at 3pm, when they would have an opportunity of hearing the “Coming Man.”

The steamer, however, did not return till 5 o’clock. There was a fair muster of electors, at that hour, in the schoolhouse in Sourin. Mr Riddell was accompanied by Mr Traill of Holland, Mr Heddle of Melsetter, and Mr Marcus Calder, factor to Mr Balfour. Among those present we noticed the Rev. N. P. Rose of the Free Church; James Sinclair, Esq. of Newhouse; Mr John Gibson, Langskaill, and Mr Robert Sinclair, Swandale, &c.

On the motion of Mr John Kirkness of Wasbister, Mr J. G. Heddle of Melsetter was called to the chair.

The Chairman, before introducing Mr Riddell, apologised for intruding himself on the notice of the electors of Rousay, as he was a stranger wholly unconnected with the island (hisses.) He would not, however, detain them, but simply introduce Mr Riddell to the meeting.

Mr Riddell on rising was greeted with hisses and applause. After apologising for his delay, and thanking the electors for coming out in such numbers to hear him, he went on to speak on the Irish Church questions, repeating much the same observations as he had made in other places, and reiterating his belief that the Establishment in Ireland was the bulwark of Protestantism.

Some marks of disapprobation were here shown by Mr Rose, when the Chairman called him to order, and stated that such disturbance could not be tolerated.

Mr Rose claimed the right to express approbation or disapprobation according to the character of the sentiments uttered – a privilege allowed in all well-conducted public assemblies.

Mr Sinclair of Newhouse said – Mr Chairman – Sir. Mr Rose is a well-loved man amongst us, and he will be heard here when you will not be heard – (great cheering.)

Mr Riddell did not enter upon any other subject, and sat down after speaking for almost ten minutes.

The Chairman then said that electors would have an opportunity of asking questions, but added that they must be concise, and that no discussion would be allowed.

The Rev. Mr Rose, who occupied a seat close to the Chairman and Mr Riddell, then stood up, and said he had one or two questions to put.

The Chairman appeared desirous of preventing Mr Rose from getting any questions put, but the reverend gentleman soon showed that he was not to be trifled with, and after vindicating his right to take part in the proceedings, proceeded to “educate” the Chairman as to a Chairman’s duties.

Mr Rose then said that as Mr Riddell was a gentleman desirous of representing the islands in Parliament, it would be obliging if he could inform the meeting how many islands there were in the group – (laughter.)

Mr Riddell could not answer the question, and tried to cover his ignorance by saying that he was as much known as his opponent.

Mr Rose then said he thought it would be desirable to send the candidate to school, as he was very ignorant about the islands which he wished to represent in Parliament – (cheers and laughter.) He would, however, go on with his questions, and the next one was, Would the candidate be in favour of equalising the burgh and county franchise?

Mr Riddell, after some hesitation and appealing looks to the Chairman, was understood to answer in the affirmative.

Mr Rose next asked, “For the protection of the small tenant voters, would Mr Riddell support a bill in favour of the ballot?”

Mr Riddell, who hummed, hawed, and hesitated, at last said that there appeared to be a great deal of intimidation practised in that island –

Mr Rose – By your own party – (cheers) – I am glad of the confession.

Here the Chairman interfered and after a good deal of confusion mingled with hisses, cheers, and laughter, Mr Riddell said he meant “these islands,” the Chairman adding; “That is what he said.”

Mr Riddell then said his answer to the question was that, in consequence of the amount of intimidation practised in these islands, while opposed to secret voting, he would, if the county wished it, support the ballot – (oh, oh.)

Mr Rose next asked if the candidate was prepared to vote in favour of a measure giving equal justice to all citizens in the realm, irrespective of their religious or ecclesiastical views, and thereby sweeping away all endowments?

Mr Riddell, who did not seem to understand this “philosophical” question, answered innocently, “Yes.”

Mr Rose – Then on what ground did the candidate defend taxation levied on the whole community for the support of an institution such as the Irish Church, consisting of one-eighth of the population, while the rest were bitterly opposed to it?

Mr Riddell made a rambling, unsatisfactory reply, and tried to make out that the people of Ireland did not pay for the Irish Church.

Mr Rose said that Mr Riddell seemed to be woefully ignorant of the whole matter, but he would like an intelligible answer to this question, Did the candidate consider it just or even safe in a free country, with freedom of opinion and free institutions, to keep up an establishment which the great majority of the people considered unjust and an obstruction in the way of truth?

Mr Riddell’s reply was so absurd that it was drowned in laughter and hisses.

Mr Rose – What are the candidate’s views in regard to the recommendations of the Commissioners on Education?

Mr Riddell, who was at a loss what to answer, received a hint from the Chairman, and complained that the question was too extensive, and he would like it put plain and definite.

Mr Rose then said that he was sorry for the candidate’s ignorance, but he would break up the question, and ask first what was his opinion of Local Boards, as recommended by the Education Commissioners?

Mr Riddell said he would vote in favour of a Scottish Board.

Mr Rose next asked his opinion as to rates and compulsory education.

Mr Riddell made no explicit answer with respect to rating, but in regard to compulsory education, said he would vote that children be kept at school up to a certain age.

Mr Rose – As it was reported that the candidate had been connected with India, what had he to say about setting up an Established Church among the Hindoos – (laughter) – like that in Ireland?

Mr Riddell said oh! The questioner had never been in India, and that all people were alike established there – (laughter and interruption.)

Mr Rose – Did Mr Riddell agree with Mr Disraeli that “the religious liberty which all Her Majesty’s subjects now happily enjoy is owing to the Christian Church in this country having accepted the principles of the Reformation, and recognised the supremacy of the Sovereign not only in matters temporal but in matters ecclesiastical?”

Mr Riddell said – yes, he was a member of the Church of England, and held by the views of Mr Disraeli.

Mr Rose said then it appeared that Mr Riddell was an Erastian [of, characterized by, or advocating the doctrine of state supremacy in ecclesiastical affairs] and he felt no desire to ask him any more questions.

No other elector appearing disposed to put questions, Mr Rose again stood up and moved, amid the interruptions of the Chairman, that Mr Riddell was not a fit and proper person to represent the county of Orkney and Shetland in Parliament.

Mr James Sinclair of Newhouse, seconded the motion.

Mr Traill of Holland moved, as an amendment, that Mr Riddell was a fit and proper person to represent the county.

Mr Malcolm Corsie seconded the amendment, adding, “I go in with that, Sir!” – (great laughter.)

The Chairman then proceeded to take the vote, when a large number of hands were held up in favour of Mr Rose’s motion. It was suggested by Mr Rose that those who voted with him should rise to their feet. There was an immediate and overwhelming response which did not appear to please the Chairman, who replied that they should content themselves with holding up their hands, as Mr Rose’s shadow covered nearly the whole meeting.

Mr Rose said he believed the people had no objection to sit under his shadow rather than that of the Chairman – (cheers.)

The Chairman next asked those who voted for the amendment to hold up their hands, when only a few hands were held up, some of those who voted not being electors. Mr Traill and Mr Marcus Calder were among those who voted. The Chairman was obliged to confess the motion carried through only, he believed, by a majority of two!

Mr Rose said he had another motion to propose, which was that Mr Dundas was a fit and proper person to represent the county in Parliament.

The Chairman seemed disposed to object to the motion when Mr Traill said that he could not object as Mr Rose was in perfect order. As no amendment to this second motion was proposed, it may be considered as expressing the mind of the meeting.

Mr Rose then moved a vote of thanks to the Chairman, and added he was sorry Mr Heddle should have given expression so strongly to his feelings. As for himself he was a thorough Liberal, and would not be ashamed to own it. He wished every man to enjoy perfect freedom to exercise his right of voting according to his convictions of duty.

The Chairman thanked the meeting for the honour done him, and at the same time tendered an apology to Mr Rose, expressing regret if he had said or done anything offensive.

There was then a shaking of hands between the Chairman and Mr Rose, and the two “agreed to differ.”

The meeting then broke up, and an impression prevailed that Mr Riddell had most effectually put his foot through his own cause in Rousay.


Letters to the Editor


SIR, – This usually quiet island has been literally besieged during the week by the agents and other friends of the Tory candidate, and every possible means has been employed to induce the electors to support the pretensions of Mr Riddell. Many of the respectable small farmers are surprised, as well they may, at the amount of attention shewn to them by these big wigs.

On Thursday morning the intelligence spread rapidly through the island that the canvassers had come. Starting from the head-centre of Westness the agents took opposite routes, literally circumventing the island, and with few exceptions every elector was called on in the course of the day, and I am sorry to hear that very objectionable means were employed fitted to intimidate poor dependent tenants. The great majority, however, remained firm to their conscientious convictions of duty, and would not pledge themselves. In some cases, I am informed, very ungentlemanly language was employed, most oppressive to persons of thorough religious feelings. On Friday morning much surprise was excited when the Orcadia steamer was seen approaching Milbourne, and it was soon noised abroad that the magnificent “Bunkum Riddley” had come at last, accompanied by the lairds of Holland and Melsetter, and Mr Marcus Calder.

In the evening there was a fair muster of electors in the schoolhouse of Sourin to hear the Tory candidate. His sworn supporters, who accompanied him to the island, were of course present, ready to do him all honour. In the absence of any qualified person it was necessary for them to call in the services of J G Heddle, Esq. of Melsetter, who took the chair, but apparently with some misgiving. With a countenance blanched like a cabbage-stock, and a voice tremulous with fear, he proceeded in a few sentences of broken English to introduce Mr Riddell, making an apology at the same time for his intrusion. On rising to give his address the Tory candidate looked very much alarmed, and it became apparent in a few minutes that the worthy man was not master of oratory. He appeared just to have one idea in his head on the Irish Church question, and he laboured painfully to give expression to it. The address was much interrupted, and at its close, the Rev Mr Rose of the Free Church rose to put him through his political catechism. A nice scene occurred just then. The Chairman, who disposed to carry things with a high hand attempted to put Mr Rose down, but it was soon visible that he had a man of stern stuff to deal with, who knew what his rights were, and who was determined to make full use of them. Mr Rose then proceeded to put a long list of questions, which were indifferently answered – so much so indeed that if ignorance be one of the requisite qualifications of a member of Parliament the Orkney Tories have lighted upon the right man. Both Mr Heddle and Mr Riddell appeared desperately alarmed lest the minister should express his views. Again and again in the course of questioning did the chairman protest vehemently against Mr Rose, but his protests were invariably put down with hisses and derisive cheers. On Mr Riddell acknowledging that he did not know how many islands there are in the group, Mr Rose said, “I see we must send you to school,” and this remark caused great amusement. Altogether the meeting was one of the strangest of its kind ever held in Rousay, and when it broke up the electors walked away pitying Mr Riddell no doubt for being placed in so awkward a position by his ill-advised friends and counsellors. It is confidently expected that, notwithstanding all the influence exerted in Rousay on his behalf, he will not gain many votes. People here see clearly that the exercise of the franchise is a sacred trust to be used by every man as his birthright, and that for any laird or factor to ask a tenant to give his vote against his own conviction is simply oppression and moral degradation. – I am, &c., – ONE WHO WILL VOTE FOR DUNDAS.


Rousay, 20th Nov. 1868. [Orkney Herald]

Letters to the Editor

Rousay, 28th Nov., 1868.

SIR, – It would appear that our Liberals only object to landlord influence when opposed to their views. The following most curious printed letter has been industriously circulated amongst Colonel Burroughs’ tenantry. Mr Balfour, in constant correspondence with Colonel Burroughs, states positively that he is a Conservative and supporter of the present excellent Government. Mr James C. Traill, of Blackheath, supposes, from his connections, that he must be a Whig, and then he indulges in the usual cant of his party about letting tenants alone. It is just to be let alone we want in Rousay; neither Colonel Burroughs nor those acting for him have interfered with us, but really we have had more than enough of attempted coercion from Mr Dundas’s party, Mr James C. Traill included. – Yours &c., – AN ELECTOR.


Copy of a Letter addressed to the Chairman of Mr Dundas’s Committee
from James C. Traill Esq. Blackheath, November 10, 1868.

My Dear Sir, – My correspondence with Colonel Burroughs has of late years related rather to local and personal than to political topics, and I hardly therefore feel justified in speaking with certainty as to his political views, or as to what part he would personally take in the impending contest for your County.

I know, however, that his uncle, Mr G. W. Traill of Veira, for whom he cherished the highest possible respect, was a very decided “Liberal,” as also is Colonel Burroughs’ great friend, (lately his guardian) Sir Edward Colebrooke. My uncle, the present Member for Caithness – to whom I have mentioned the subject this moment – assures me that from his knowledge of Colonel Burroughs (and he should be better able to form an opinion than I am) he is pretty sure that Colonel Burroughs’ inclination would be towards a candidate of Liberal opinions. I hold the same view, and feel certain that this inclination would be the more readily shown in the case of Mr Dundas, for whom I have heard him express very great esteem and regard.

But whatever may be Colonel Burroughs’ private opinion, I feel sure of this, that like all intelligent and right-minded men, be would be most anxious for the honest and conscientious exercise of the franchise by his tenants in strict accordance with their own convictions, and without any reference to the opinions of himself or others. I make this statement as to what I consider would be Colonel Burroughs’ wishes upon this point with the greater pleasure because I feel that in so-doing I am only discharging for an absent friend a duty which would, I hope, were I placed in a similar position, be readily performed.

Believe me, Dear Sir. Faithfully yours, (Signed) JAS. C. TRAILL.
To James Baikie, Esq. of Tankerness.

1868 December 8 Orkney Herald

TOTAL ROUT OF THE TORIES. – Once again Mr Frederick Dundas is returned to Parliament as the representative of Orkney and Shetland. The overwhelming majority of 269 turned the simple defeat of Mr Riddell into the total rout of the Tories, who have themselves to blame for this fresh disgrace. We congratulate the electors on the battle so stoutly fought, and on the victory so nobly won…..

1868 December 22 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – POSTAL COMMUNICATION. – We understand that a memorial signed by nearly 300 of the inhabitants of the island, above 14 years of age, has been forwarded to the Postmaster-General praying for an increase of postal communication. At present the people of Rousay have only a mail twice-a-week – on Tuesdays and Thursdays and with the increased correspondence of late years this is felt to be too little, and as the parish of Evie on the mainland opposite enjoys a mail thrice-a-week, what is now asked is that, seeing the runner has to make the journey three times at any rate, the post-office authorities may see their way to have the correspondence of Rousay brought forward on the third regular post-day, which is Saturday, and make suitable arrangements with the mail-boat for having the same conveyed to Rousay on that day. The additional expense could not be very heavy, and the advantage to the people would be very great. It is a long interval between Thursday and the following Tuesday to be without a mail. The inconvenience was much felt, for example, during the recent election. It is likewise felt in cases of sickness, when persons require to go to town, and in a variety of ways besides. We sincerely hope the request of the memorialists may be speedily granted, for we are persuaded that Her Majesty’s Government are anxious to facilitate the post communication, as far possible, or even the remotest portion of the kingdom. We may observe that at present there are two elderly women who are doing good public service regularly in the shape of carrying the letters &c., from the post-office round the respective districts Sourin and Wasbister – travelling twice a-week, and in stormy weather oftener – some 6 or 7 miles each way, and receiving no public remuneration whatever, nothing in short except what individuals are pleased to give them. We understand indeed that through the kindness of our respected factor one of them has lately obtained a house on the road-side more conveniently situated, and that the people of the district have kindly trimmed it, and it looks very comfortable. Could nothing be obtained in the way of salary, however small, for such deserving public servants?

A SWEET ROSE. – The correspondence between the Rev. Rose, Free Church Minister at Rousay, and Mr George Learmonth, of Westness Farm, was published in Wednesday’s Evening Courant, and the circumstances thus brought to light will stand in good stead to “point a moral, and adorn a tale.” Indeed, in these dreary times, it is quite refreshing to drink from such gushing streams as the Rev. N. P. Rose has, by smiting the rock, opened up to thirsty souls. But – oh, that horrid but – will Mr Rose reap credit for his labours in the way of enlightening Mr Learmonth as to his duty to his “master” and when the clerical gentleman uses that word, does he bear in mind the attributes of his Master? We are afraid not. Had the much abused Mr Hopkins taken it upon himself to become a canvassing machine, a la Murphy, he would have been thundered at by the Presbyteries of the county, denounced from pulpits, and sneered at by all but his immediate followers. Fortunately for Mr Hopkins, that yen non-conforming gentleman had the good taste to keep out of a political contest where, on the side he must have taken, there was no scarcity of hot pitch and consequent defilement, and where the necessity for wearing gloves is done away with at least for some time to come.

Mr Hopkins, however, wisely declined taking any part in election matters, and had the more legitimate members of the ministry followed his example, the county would have been spared much that is unseemly. The correspondence to which we have referred illustrates this in a very graphic manner, and it is at the same time made patent that the Rousay Rose has no intention of “blushing” unseen, however much cause he may have to blush for his little escapade. We have no desire to be uncharitable, especially as we have a great respect for the “cloth;” but it is earnestly to be hoped that the “lovely companions” of the hero in this matter will see fit to make known – in whatever manner it may seem to them best – their feeling on the subject, for the information and instruction of those whom it may concern. These remarks may, in certain quarters, be set down as “an expiring growl,” but we are fully assured they will find an echo.


The following communications appear in the Courant:-

Sir, – Now that the Orkney and Shetland election is over, and the Conservative cause discomfited it is interesting to look into the extraordinary means used by the so-called Liberals to gain their ends.

The behaviour of very many of the Dissenting clergy, and, I grieve to say, of some of the Established Church as well, has been such as even to disgust their own party, and will most decidedly materially weaken their influence as religious guides and teachers amongst their own congregations, their doings having been such as must lower them in general respect.

Political sermons, parties denounced from the pulpit by name, and by vile and opprobrious epithets, and the House of God turned into an election hall, have been but too frequent for the last few weeks. No paid agents of Mr Dundas’ could have been more active than the parsons, and the parsons’ wives also, who canvassed not only during the bright light of day, but under the cloud of night. Bills have been issued, and strange “Curiosities of Literature” have been written, a few of which I have been lucky enough to pick up; but certainly, for cool impudence none can surpass a letter written by the Rev. Neil P. Rose, Free Kirk parson in the Island of Rousay, to Mr George Learmonth, land steward to Fred. W. Burroughs, Esq., Colonel of Her Majesty’s 93d Highlanders, and, being a sample of what has been doing in the far north I send you a copy of it along with the reply, which I trust you will see fit to publish. All I have to add is, that Mr Learmonth is a most honest, straightforward man and as highly esteemed and respected by all classes as anyone in his position in the county. – I am, &c,        S. C. A. Kirkwall 10th Dec. 1868.


Free Church Manse of Rousay – Monday, 30th Nov. 1868

[To Mr Geo. Learmonth, Westness.]

My Dear Sir, – I was in Wasbister to-day and was exceedingly sorry to learn that you have lately been trying to coerce some of the voters there to vote against their own conscientious convictions. I thought, after your truly humbling confessions to me on Friday week at the school of Sourin, and after what you said to me, that you would have at once ceased such practises. You know the great question at issue has an important bearing on our principles as a Church. In fact, it is mainly a Church question, and it belongs to ministers far more than to farm stewards to endeavour to instruct the people regarding it. I feel it most offensive on your part to go to the people of my congregation and try to take undue liberties with my character. They can only view your conduct, as they do, with disgust. I challenge you to say that I have done or said anything unbecoming a minister of the gospel; but your conduct in first going round the island and getting innocent people to sign a document which you either was (sic) incapable of explaining, or did not wish to explain to them, thereby ensnaring them and wounding their consciences, is most reprehensible. I had hoped better things of you. A man’s conscience is so sacred that we are bound to have respect to its scruples even, and deal very tenderly with them. Therefore, to injure it is the worst of crimes. It is a greater crime than murder or theft to tamper with another’s conscience. “When ye sin so against the brethren and wound their consciences, ye sin against Christ.” To tempt a man, as you have been evidently endeavouring to do by an appeal to fear or self-interest in a matter of conscience, is surely a grave crime, and I wonder that you cannot see it in that light. How different is your conduct from that of Mr Scarth, our esteemed factor. He has given you no authority for acting as you have been doing. He has acted a noble part in this whole business by telling the tenants who have called on him to vote according to their own convictions. You know if the people were left alone – if you had not deceived them – they are, with very few exceptions, all Liberals; and Free Church people would follow the counsels of their General Assembly. Sir, you stand at this moment before the public of Rousay morally a dishonoured man; and you may rest assured I shall take the earliest opportunity of letting your master, our gallant Colonel, know all the particulars, and the part you have taken, if you do not at once desist from further tampering with the conscience of Free Church people. They have and love their principles, though you may be too opaque in your moral constitution to perceive that. – In haste, I remain, yours faithfully,

(Signed) NEIL P. ROSE


Westness Farm, 3d Dec. 1868.

To Rev. Neil P. Rose, Free Church Manse, Rousay.

Rev. Sir, – Your letter of 30th November not a little astonished me. I wish you had interfered as little with convictions and honest wishes of the tenants as I have done. You have gone about the island, night and day, and have tried to drive your views, as if they had been gospel truth, down the throat of every voter.

You have used Colonel Burroughs’ name and influence in a way you had no warrant, and you threaten me with his vengeance. I am glad to say I know the Colonel better than you do; he is a true Liberal, and you and your party are only mock ones.

Your write about Free Church principles. Are your present ones the principles of the late great and good Dr Chalmers, or are they those of the living Dr Begg! What your present idol Gladstone says now as truth, he condemned, I am told, a few years ago, as gross falsehood, and yet you make such opinions matter of conscience.

I think conscience with you is just to see with your eyes and to do your wishes – a near approach to priestcraft and Popish tyranny.

How dare you, sir, call me morally a dishonoured man! I am vain enough to believe that the character of plain George Learmonth stands as high in Orkney for honesty as even that of the great Rev. N. Rose of the Free Kirk, and I hold myself quite as safe an adviser as you. I expect that the gallant Colonel is far from asking your interference either with his tenants or his servants.

I deny the charge you make. I merely did my duty in reading to the tenants Mr Scarth’s letter, in which he warns them to vote as they see right, and not to be influenced by false accounts given by you and others of their landlord’s wishes and opinions.

I shall publish this correspondence as the best way of bringing under the Colonel’s notice what an overbearing priest is on his island. – I am, Rev. Sir, your obedient servant. – (Signed) GEORGE LEARMONTH.

1868 December 29 Orkney Herald

THE ROUSAY CORRESPONDENCE. – We understand that the letter which the Rev. Mr Rose of Rousay sent to Mr Learmonth, regarding alleged undue influence practised upon voters, was marked private, so that there was a breach of honour in consenting to give it publicity without first asking the writer’s permission. The letter, purporting to be written by Mr Learmonth in reply to Mr Rose, has been forwarded to us for inspection. The signature only is Mr Learmonth’s own, while the letter appears to have been penned to dictation by some well-skilled clerk in public office.