In Print

Newsprint – 1869

[Despite the recent stinging editorial concerning the Rev. Neil Patrick Rose – the Rousay minister declined putting pen to paper in reply…..]

1869 January 5 Orkney Herald

IMPROVED POSTAL COMMUNICATION BETWEEN KIRKWALL AND ROUSAY. – We understand that, through the successful representations of Mr Dundas to the Postmaster-General, it has now been arranged that Rousay shall enjoy the benefit of postal communication three times a-week. Our worthy member has shown thus early that the statements he made as to the interest which he would continue to take in the islands were not mere talk or electioneering devices.

THE WEATHER. – The weather of late has been very stormy and changeable, high winds and severe frost following each other in rapid succession. A covering of snow on the ground is considered the most seasonal weather at the Christmas and New Year times, but instead of this we had stiff gales of sou’-east wind. From the number of disastrous wrecks which have occurred, the weather appears to have been much more severe on the Atlantic and on the southern coasts of England than on the North Sea.

1869 January 19 Orkney Herald

The smack-rigged boat “Osprey” is now plying as a Packet between Kirkwall and Rousay. – Peter Stickler, Master.

1869 February 16 Orkney Herald

PROLONGED AND VIOLENT GALE. – The islands were visited last week by a tract of stormy weather, which culminated in a violent gale from the nor’-west on Saturday night and Sunday. Up to a late hour on Sunday night the wind blew with all the force of a hurricane, and people who ventured out to church during the day had some difficulty in making headway in places where they were exposed to the swirl of the frequent gusts. In some instances ladies were whirled around like tops, and hapless persons of both sexes were occasionally thrown to the ground. Several of the gusts seemed almost to equal in violence the great hurricane of last year. Skylights and other windows, cans and slate-roofs suffered damage to some extent in all parts of the town. On Saturday the smack Elizabeth, belonging to the Messrs Heddle of Kirkwall, snapped some chains when anchored at Aikerness in Evie, and was run ashore on the sand. After discharging part of her cargo, it was expected that she would be got off again without difficulty. No serious casualty, so far as we have yet heard, occurred in this quarter during the course of the gale.

1869 March 2 The Orcadian

FEARFUL STORMS AND SHIPWRECK. – Since Wednesday last we have been visited by very severe weather indeed. Strong and continuous gales from S. to N.W., accompanied with rain, sleet, and snow. On Saturday morning from about 2 to 5 o’clock it blew a fearful hurricane – the heaviest we have experienced for years – luckily it was low water or doubtless serious damage might have occurred in the Harbour [at Kirkwall]. Slates and chimney pots were flying about in all directions, and at a farm in the neighbourhood a stable took wings altogether. Through the day the squalls continued very heavy, with sleet and accompanied by two or three peals of thunder at no great distance. Sunday and yesterday have set in with a real fall of snow, and now when we go to press, the weather had moderated down so that mails may be looked for as we have had none since the 24th ult., neither has there been any communication with the North Isles since that date…..

[The shipwreck mentioned in the headline occurred on the rocks at Breckness near Stromness which were …..’strewed with the wreck of a vessel that had, during the hurricane gone to pieces there and the gravest fears were felt for the safety of the crew, whom no human power could have rendered assistance to on such a coast and in such fearful weather. The vessel proved to be the barque “Clifton Hall” of Sunderland, 354 tons register’…..]

[Orkney Herald]

ROUSAY. – The communion was observed here on Sabbath last, when the Rev. Mr Reid ably assisted Mr McLellan on the occasion. Mr Reid preached on Saturday and also on Monday.

POSTAL COMMUNICATION. – We have now an additional post every week, but we think that the next thing which we would require would be a money-order office, which is much needed in the island, and we have not the slightest doubt but that would get it if a petition were sent up. The addition in mail-communication has been obtained by our energetic representative, Mr Dundas, who attended most faithfully to the petition.

The weather here for the past few months has been remarkably mild, with the exception of a few days of rough rainy weather.

1869 March 9 Orkney Herald

PROLONGED AND SEVERE SNOW-STORM. – The snow-storm, which had begun at the opening of last week, continued up to Friday, with occasional pauses between the heavy falls. The greatest quantities of snow generally fell over-night, and each new morning showed a fresh coating of considerable death. People went knee-deep in the snow on country roads, and some “fans” (as they are locally termed) reached to the top of field fences in places where there had been a swirling drift…..

1869 March 16 Orkney Herald

ARRIVAL OF LAPWINGS. – A large flock of lapwings, or teeacks, which seemed to have just arrived from their appearance in the vicinity of Kirkwall early last week. Although snow was on the ground there was a pleasant touch of spring in the familiar plaint of these frequenters of Orcadian fields and moors.

CATTLE FAMINE IN ORKNEY. – The want of fodder for cattle is now and has been for some time severely felt in Orkney, and especially in the North Isles. Many of the smaller tenants have been under the necessity of giving their oats to the cattle to keep them alive, and in some islands, such as Shapinshay, stack-yards are getting quite exhausted. At the Ayre Mills of late there has been a great demand for sacks of husks or seed-shells, which have gone in boat-loads to different islands. The circumstance that these husks are boiled along with seaweed to form food for the cattle shows the miserable plight to which many are reduced. Unless dealers come forward and clear off the cattle at once, there is great danger that a number of the poor animals will perish through sheer starvation. From the kind of food they have been receiving deterioration has already to some extent taken place. The prolonged snow and frost, coming so late in the season, have helped to make matters worse, covering up and checking the pasturage, which promised so well during the continuance of the mild weather.

1869 March 23 The Orcadian

ROUSAY – THE WEATHER. – During the winter months, on towards the middle of February, we had very fine weather, but in the month of January we never saw such a spring in the grass and turnips; but now it is all gone. Many of the farmers, owing to the winter, have saved nearly a fourth part of their fodder, that would have been spent had the winter been as rough as we have seen; and yet some of them will have enough to do to save their cattle and horses. Some have only three small stacks for 40 cattle and 8 horses, and no turnips at all.

FISHING. – The cod fishing has become a complete failure this season; this will be a hard year with many of our fishermen.

DEATHS. At Monsie, Rousay, on the 9th inst., Mr Wm. Sabistane, at an advanced age. This is only the second death in the parish (of Rousay and Egilshay) during the last five months.

[Agricultural labourer William Sabiston was born in 1802. Initially he and his wife Jane lived at Stirling, later moving up the hill in Quandale to Munsey with children, James, William, Mary, and Jane. After her husband’s death Jean made ends meet as a stocking knitter].

1869 March 30 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – WINTER IN SPRING. – We have been visited with a fearful snow storm for the past fortnight, accompanied by severe frosts. In consequence out-door work was at a perfect stand-still. The fans of snow in some places were of extraordinary height; but between the strength of the sun and the strong winds, it has nearly disappeared by this time. Fodder being in general very scarce throughout the island, the farmers are exceedingly glad that the pasture is making its appearance once more. If the snow had continued much longer some of the small farmers would have been under the necessity of disposing of their cattle to the first comer. Farmers are all now busy making preparations for seed time, which is hoped will commence in about two weeks if the weather be fine.

1869 April 6 The Orcadian

ROUSAY. – THE WEATHER. – The weather for the put two weeks has been favourable, and farming operations have been actively prosecuted. A good many of the smaller farmers are complaining for want of folder, and the want will be still more felt should the weather prove unfavourable throughout the month of April.

SCHOOL EXAMINATION – The Free Church School here. taught by Mr Bruce, was examined on Friday the 26 ult., by the Rev. Messrs Rose and Roy – the latter taking the chief part in the examination. A number of parents and others taking an interest in the young, were present. In English the reading and pronunciation was not so good as the spelling; and in arithmetic the senior class did not appear to advantage. By the kindness of Mrs Rose, a number of prizes was provided and distributed amongst the best scholars.

THE Communion was dispensed in the Free Church of Rousay on the 28th ult. The Rev. N. P. Rose, pastor of the congregation was ably assisted by the Rev. James Roy of Firth.

THE farmers are very busy preparing the soil for the precious seed. Some black oats have already been sown in the neighbouring island of Egilshay.

THE fishermen are also busy preparing their boats and apparelling for the approaching summer fishings.

DEATHS. At Ready-penny, Rousay, on the 31st ult., Mr John Clouston, parish beadle, aged 88 years.

[I have never heard of ‘Ready-penny’! According to the census of 1861 there was a John Clouston and his wife Mary living at ‘Leean’, now a ‘vanished house in the vicinity of Whitemeadows and Langskaill. Their marriage certificate tells us they were married on November 27th 1857. James, son of William Clouston and Jane Inkster, and living at Little Claybank, was 73 years of age when he married 59-year-old knitter Mary Flaws, daughter of James Flaws and Ellen Murray. She was living at ‘Little Lean’. The death of Mary was recorded in the columns of The Orcadian in the edition dated October 23rd 1869].

1869 April 13 The Orcadian

ROUSAY – WEATHER. – We have been visited these few days past with heavy showers of snow, and sleet, and rain, accompanied with high winds, which has brought the sowing to a stand-still for the present, and has put a stop to ploughing, especially where the ground is wet.

FISHING. – The fishermen in this island (with the exception of those who fish lobsters) have done little or nothing this season, so far, but we expect that the deficiency in the winter and spring fishing will be met by an ample supply in summer.

EDUCATION. – The state of education in some districts in this island is at present not in a very healthy state, and we are waiting anxiously for the passing of the education bill now before Parliament, in the hope that we may be benefitted by its provisions for in vain do we look for help from those in the island who have it in their power to supply their school with an efficient teacher. It may be thought people living in the far north should rest content if their children are taught to read a little, and more especially if they can be taught to spell a few difficult words; but, in these days of reform, we would fain aspire to a little reform in education.

[Orkney Herald]

ROUSAY. – Last week a new firthy boat arrived here. She was built in Wick for David Wood, [boat captain, Rusness], Weir.

The weather for the past week has been rough and rather reassuming a wintry appearance. But nevertheless some our farmers have been committing seed to the soil. Sowing has not become general in the island yet.

Our island has been visited with little or no disease during the past winter, only one death having occurred during that time.

1869 April 27 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – SOWING. – We have had a few days of very fine weather now. The farmers are all very busy putting the seed into the ground. Some of our farmers have got entirely through.

BRONCHITIS. – A great many of our inhabitants have been attacked with sore throats, and we are of opinion that it is contagious. This is just the worst season of the year for sickness of whatever kind.

[The Orcadian]

ROUSAY. WEATHER. – The weather these few days past has been fine and warm, but rather wet, which has impeded the sowing on wet soil. A few of our farmers are far advanced with sowing, and some are through with the oats, and have been sowing bere. The grass looks healthy, and is making rapid progress, and if the weather keeps good we expect very soon to hear no more complaints for want of meat for the cattle this season.

1869 May 4 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – We have had most delightful weather for the last eight days, scarcely to be surpassed in the middle of summer. The farmers, having got their oats into the soil, are taking the advantage of the fine weather by planting potatoes. Some of our farmers who had oats into the ground before the last fall of snow are very glad to see it making its appearance above ground.

1869 May 8 The Orcadian

ROUSAY. – The farmers are very busy planting potatoes. Bere sowing has also commenced. The weather is very cold and dry. Everything has withered for the last eight days by reason of so much frost. The hills were grey with snow on Thursday morning.

A ewe belonging to Mr Robert Sinclair, Swandell, presented its owner with four lambs a few days ago, which are all alive, and thriving well.

1869 June 1 Orkney Herald

THE WEATHER. – No improvement has as yet taken place in the weather. A cold north wind has continued to prevail almost without intermission during the entire month, completely neutralising the effect of the sun, and preventing the progress of vegetation. The grass and young braird are rapidly assuming a dried shrivelled appearance.

1869 June 19 The Orcadian

ROUSAY – COD FISHING. – Nothing has been done at the cod fishing during the winter, and it still continues in an unsatisfactory state. Our fishermen have sought both far and near and have found very little. The highest catch during the summer is scarcely three tons.

FARMING OPERATIONS. – Turnip sowing is near about over. Some of the turnip braird is looking well, notwithstanding the cold north winds and nipping frost. The wind has taken its stand so long at the North that we hardly expect it to blow from any other point of the compass for some time yet.

BIRTHS. – At Brough, Frotoft, Rousay, the wife of Mr John Mainland, farmer, of a son. [John Mainland was married to Margaret Craigie, Finyo. Their son was named after his father.]

At Whitemeadows, Wasbester, Rousay, the wife of Mr Hugh Marwick, fisherman, of a son. [Hugh Marwick was married to Mary Inkster, Innister. Their son was called James.]

At Quoys, Sourin, Rousay, on the 4th instant, the wife of Mr William Harrold, mason, of a daughter. [William Harrold was married to Betsy Marwick, Hanover. Their daughter was named after her mother. This family soon moved from Quoys to Blossom.]

At Digro, Sourin, Rousay, on the 12th inst., the wife of Mr James Leonard, music teacher, of a son. [James Leonard’s wife was Hannah Reid, Wasdale. Their son was christened Frederick Cunningham Leonard.]

At Langskaill, Wasbester, Rousay, on the 13th inst., the wife of Mr David Gibson, of a daughter. [David’s wife was Anne Craigie Sinclair, Newhouse, Frotoft. Their daughter was christened Mary Sinclair Gibson.]

1869 June 22 Orkney Herald

THE WEATHER. – During the week there has been in some districts showers of rain, and in others showers of sleet and snow. While the sun shines the atmosphere is comfortably warm, but the mild genial weather so necessary for bringing forward the crops has not yet put in appearance. A day or two of good Scotch mist followed by warm sunshine would be very acceptable to most farmers.

1869 July 17 The Orcadian

THE DESTRUCTION OF OUR SEA BIRDS. – It is well that the public should be aware that the Act for the preservation of sea birds recently passed imposes a penalty for killing, wounding, or injuring any of them from the 1st April to the 1st of August; and that the general feeling in the county is so much against any act of this kind that the perpetrators will not have much chance of escape. We append the clause which specifies the kind of bird which fall under the scope of the act:- “That the words “sea birds” shall for all purposes of this act, be deemed to include the different species of auk, bonxie, Cornish cough, coulterneb, diver, eider duck, fulmar, gannet, grebe, guillemot, gull, kittiwake, loon, marrot [razor billed auk], merganser, murre, oyster catcher, petrel, puffin, razor bill, scout, sea mew, sea parrot, sea swallow, shearwater, shell drake, skua smew, solan goose, tarrock [young kittiwake], tern, tystey, and willock.”

1869 August 17 Orkney Herald

PLEASURE TRIP TO ROUSAY. – On Friday afternoon, shortly after two o’clock, the s.s. “Orcadia” left Kirkwall Harbour with a goodly number of pleasure-seekers on board, bound for the romantic island Rousay. Up to the hour of starting the day had been cloudy, with occasional showers, and as the barometer had a slightly downward tendency, many were detained from venturing afloat in the fear of being caught in a “Lammas spate.” But as the afternoon wore on the day improved, and by half-past 3 o’clock when, after a pleasant sail of an hour’s duration, the excursionists had been landed below the Parish Manse, the air was quite mild, and the mantle of mist which had during the forenoon shrouded the summit Kierfea Hill, floated away with the gentle breeze, leaving the whole clear, and affording an excellent “coigne of vantage” for viewing the surrounding islands. The passengers were speedily landed, when they proceeded to enjoy themselves, each according to his own fancy. Those who had friends in the island went to see them, but the great proportion proceeded to the lochs, and the top of Kierfea Hill. Some gentlemen, intent upon sport, had brought their fishing rods and baskets along with them, but we are not aware whether they made a particularly good fishing. Had guns been substituted for fishing rods, and game-bags for trout-baskets, even minus a pointer, there would have been little difficulty in making a “good hag.” The whole island is the property of Colonel Burroughs, H.M. 93d Highlanders, presently in India, and should no disease occur, the gallant Colonel may live in the prospect of enjoying some capital sport in the Rousay hills when he makes up his mind to visit his northern estates. Around the island there runs an excellent road, intersecting fields and farms of various extent, but all having the appearance of being well cultivated. Arriving at the top of Kierfea Hill, a splendid view presents itself – the whole islands stretching out on either side intersected by various firths and bays – as if a continent cut up by some majestic river. Far in the distance is seen Fair Isle, “the lonely Patmos of the North Sea,” where the admiral’s flagship of the Spanish Armada was wrecked; while nearer hand, reposing on the blue waters of the North Sea, are the islands of North Ronaldshay, Sanday, Westray, &c. On the other side is the mainland, bounded in one direction by the Hills of Hoy, while far in the distance large fleets of boats, studding the horizon, were seen hastening to the fishing grounds. The time allowed in the island was too short for strangers seeing all its beauties, but it is to be hoped Captain Robertson will make another afternoon’s excursion to its other side. By eight o’clock all were again on board, when the homeward voyage began. The band of the Its 0. A. V. having accompanied the excursionists, dancing commenced and was kept with much spirit until the vessel neared the quay, and by nine o’clock the passengers were safely landed having had excellent afternoon’s amusement.

1869 August 24 The Orcadian

Letter to the Editor.


Sir, – We have seen through the medium of your journal that Professor Martin has been preaching the churches of the various denominations throughout the country, by which it appears that the ministers of the Established Church in these parishes are men of a different stamp from ours.

As far as I can see, our Parish Minister has no influence in the island, with the exception of a few individuals who may be considered his own relatives. The little authority he has as Parish Minister he has been endeavouring to make to be felt by his conduct to Professor Martin when in this island a short time ago. I understand that the Professor took lodgings in Saviskaill, with the intention of stopping a week or two for the benefit of his health, and to favour the population with a few of his excellent and practical discourses, which to all ordinarily intelligent people are at once instructive and impressive.

Professor Martin, being in connection with the Established Church of Scotland, wrote the Parish Minister previous to, or immediately on his handing in the island, and we believe that the reply sent him was to the effect that he would give him the Established Church forenoon and evening, but that he was to preach in no other place of worship in the island – a condition which he knew the Professor was too unsectarian to accept.

Now, Sir, could anyone have thought that near the close of the nineteenth century there was still a man – much less a professed minister of the Gospel – belonging to any Protestant evangelical denomination capable of making such a miserable sectarian stipulation. Certainly it is difficult to imagine how any person possessing real Christianity, or who had any care for the spiritual welfare of others, could have done so; but so did the Parish Minister of Rousay, and so far as I know did it entirely on his own responsibility, not even consulting his session, who, l believe, were all opposed to such a step. I have no hesitation in affirming that Professor Martin would be gladly received by every individual in this parish, Established Churchmen not excepted, with the exception of the Parish Minister and perhaps a few of his family connections. I do hope that if the Professor should ever visit Orkney again he will spend a week or two with us whether the Parish Minister will or not, as I am of opinion that it was just a bit of spleen against dissenters which made him take such an arbitrary step.

No wonder that such a man could have pledged himself “with pleasure” to vote for a Tory Member of Parliament, before he even knew who the candidate was. – I am, &c., – A PARISHIONER

1869 September 14 Orkney Herald

THE WEATHER AND CROPS. – In the south the harvest is almost over, and is in the finest condition; whereas with us cutting will not become general for eight or ten days yet. With the exception of an occasional day, such as Sunday last, the weather for a considerable time has been all that farmers could desire, and in consequence the crops which in general are heavy, have of late begun rapidly to ripen. Should the weather continue moderate for the next few weeks, and allow operations to be prosecuted with regularity, we certainly have the prospect of a large and an abundant harvest.

1869 September 21 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – EVANGELISTIC MEETING. – On Thursday we had a large meeting in the Free Church, including people from all parts of the island, and some also from Egilshay. The services were opened by the Rev. John McLellan, of the U.P. Church, and he was followed by the Rev. Mr Ferguson, of Leven Free Church, who delivered a very able and impressive discourse on the nature and necessity of holiness, and was listened to with close and rapt attention. We observed some moved to tears under Mr Ferguson’s powerful message. The services were closed by the Rev. Mr Rose. Everyone felt refreshed and edified. Such visits of brethren from the south are most acceptable, and had it not been the season of harvest we doubt not but the church would have been more crowded, “How good and pleasant a thing it is to see brethren dwell together in unity,” striving together in the work of the Lord. This is as it should be.

1869 October 5 Orkney Herald

WEATHER AND CROPS. – The wet and stormy weather of the past week for some days entirely stopped all out-door operations. Harvest work is still far behind, and a few weeks of dry weather is very much needed to enable farmers to secure their crops in safely.

HARVESTING CORN BY MACHINERY. – The following is the expense incurred on the Earl of Zetland’s farm at Aske [just outside the North Yorkshire market town of Richmond] during the late harvest. The reaper has been used on the farm for several years, has back-delivery action, and was manufactured by a local implement maker. The whole quantity cut was 80 acres – 25 wheat, average crop; 9 barley, full average; and the rest oats, light, with the exception of 10 acres, fair average crop. The whole was cut in nine days. The cost per day was £2 12s, as under:-

Nine women binding, at 2s per day – 18s
Two men binding, at 2s 6d per day – 5s
Three men stoking, at 2s 6d per day – 7s 6d
One man raking by hand, at 2s 6d per day – 2s 6d
Two men with machine, at 2s 6d per day – 5s
Allowance of 8 men instead of beer, at 6d per day – 4s
Two horses, at 3s 6d per day – 7s
Wear and tear and oil – 3s
[Total] – £2 12 0

Nine days, at 52s per day, £23 8s, the cost of the 80 acres, averages 5s 10d per acre. Four horses were employed for the reaper, each pair working half a day, and being employed in other work the remaining half. The hours of labour on this farm are – for men, from 7am to 5pm, with one hour for dinner; for women, from 8am to 5pm, with one hour for dinner. The three men were not actually stooking all day, but were engaged in removing the corn in front of the reaper before the arrival of the women in the morning, all of which corn had to be bound as well as stooked afterwards. – Agricultural Gazette.

1869 October 12 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY. THE WEATHER AND HARVEST. – The weather for the past few days has been warm and genial, accompanied by fog, and farmers have been busy at harvest work. The cutting is over on some of the farms, and a good many will finish this week. The mild weather has prevented farmers from getting much of their crops into the stackyard; but if the weather proves dry throughout this week a good many fields will be cleared. The only reaping machine in the island was introduced to it this year by Mr Seatter, Saviskaill. It was one from Mr Samuelson & Co., Banbury. It did its work well, and undoubtedly will effect a great saving in grain.

In Rousay every kind of improvement seems to make rapid progress, except education, which appears to be declining – especially in one district – and we may thank those for it who did all in their power to deprive the district of an excellent teacher, and supplied his place with a very so-and-so one – as they themselves admit. It is to be hoped that through time even this will be improved.

1869 November 16 Orkney Herald

WILL Sail as a Packet betwixt KIRKWALL and ROUSAY
twice a-week until further notice. Leaving Evie, and West Side,
Rousay, every Monday; and East Side, Rousay, every
Thursday, for Kirkwall (weather permitting).

ROUSAY PACKET. – From our advertising columns it will be observed that the powerful boat “Osprey” is to run as a packet between Kirkwall and Rousay until further notice. Such an arrangement cannot fail to be of great advantage to the inhabitants of that island in the winter season, when the weather is in general too unsettled to render it safe to come the long distance in small yawls.

1869 November 27 The Orcadian

ROUSAY. – THE wet weather has prevented some of our farmers from getting their harvest work completed; some of the potatoes being still in the ground. The potato crop here, in general is far below an average; but the turnip crop is good, and with plenty of straw farmers will have plenty of keep for cattle.

THE Free Church School here was opened a few days ago after the usual vacation; but a good many of the people who have children think they may as well keep them at home. Some of the office-bearers of the Free Church and others in the district are anxious to have another teacher if it should only be for the winter months; and if no help comes from the proper quarter, there is no other alternative. Parties whom we would expect to use their influence to have knowledge diffused among the young seem to have no interest in the matter – and instead of knowledge, ignorance is on the ascendant. However, we must thankfully acknowledge the donations given yearly by two gentlemen, and another from a society, for the advancement of education in the district; and as these donations are given to no particular party but for the good of the young, we believe the district will use their influence to turn that part of the salary to better account by getting an efficient teacher for the time being, and ere long a better system may be introduced by those more interested in the matter; and we hope soon to see the men who call themselves Liberals really on the side of progress.