In Print

Newsprint – 1884 – 1887

1884 January 10 Glasgow Herald

Letters to The Editor


Queen Street, Kirkwall,
Orkney. 5th January, 1884.

SIR, – The above subject is now so widely known throughout the country at large that it is almost superfluous to write any more about it in that sense. But it is not so much to the evictions in itself I now call attention as to the effects of the evictions. Being one of the evicted parties, and the one who suffers most therefrom, I feel myself placed in a position which compels me, though very unwillingly to say a word on my own behalf. Hitherto I have carefully avoided making any reference to my own personal wants or present condition in life; it is foreign to my nature to do so; but when I review the whole proceedings from first to last, and consider that it is not only in my own interest that I now suffer, but more particularly in the interest of others and the cause for which I have striven, and still strive, to maintain, I feel it not only a duty, but a privilege, to make my own personal case more fully known to the friends of reform than at present it is. Long before the Royal Commission visited Orkney, and even before we (the crofters) ever heard of a Commission, we often wished that an opportunity might be afforded us of stating our grievances to the Government. So anxious were we on this point that at one time we even thought of sending a deputation to Mr Gladstone for assistance. But being poor of means, illiterate, and with few friends to help us (so far as we knew), we gave up the thought in hopeless despair. But no sooner did we hear of the Royal Commission coming to visit us than our drooping spirits began to revive, and some of the more sanguine, in their anxiety for deliverance, thought that immediate relief was at hand. Cheered by this thought, they set to work in right earnest. Meetings were held, delegates appointed, and several other minor points discussed and matured. At the first of these meetings I was not present, but before the second meeting was convened a deputation of the crofters waited upon me, and asked if I would kindly consent to be chairman and clerk of their future meetings. To this request I at once agreed without any hesitation, although, as I told them, I was one of the poorest among them, and had as much need to be afraid as anyone. Yet the case was so urgent and the need so great I could not refuse. Shortly after this, and about a week before the Royal Commission sat in Kirkwall, I was still further asked to act as a delegate and appear before Her Majesty’s Commission in their (the crofters’) behalf. This was the most trying point of all. Rumours had got afloat that General Burroughs had threatened to evict anyone who went. I had no means to rely on, a wife and small family to support, a tenant at will and nowhere to go to should I be evicted. In these trying circumstances I must confess I was at first a little undecided. But when I saw the dread and terror which pervaded every countenance at that meeting my very soul was moved with sympathy, and indignation too, to think that men, intelligent men, should be under such bondage by a fellow-creature as to be afraid to make their case known, even when asked to do so by the Government of our country. So I said before them all – “What is General Burroughs but a worm of the dust more than we are that we should he so much afraid of him. There is a higher than General Burroughs that rules over all, and to Him let us look for help and direction. By the Divine help I will go, be the consequence what it may, and state our case, fearing no man.” In this spirit I along with others did go, and faithfully as we could fulfilled our mission, although at the very time we did so a threat was held over us. The result of our doing so is already well known. General Burroughs did evict us, and that too at a most critical time with my wife and children. Surely this was too bad of General Burroughs, and ought to be considered. Had I or my brother delegate been charged with falsehood, or misrepresentation of General Burroughs’s management on his estate, there might have been a shadow of excuse for such harsh and unfeeling treatment, but as it was and is there can be none. Not a single statement made by me or my brother delegate has been nor can be called in question. Truth from the very first was our motto, and nothing but truth, and upon that rock we still stand – immovable as ever. Enemies have tried, and may yet try, to have our footing removed, but impossible. Truth must and will ultimately prevail; and although I in particular now suffer for speaking the truth, yet I rejoice to know others have done so before me; ay, even unto death. Let us not, then, be faint-hearted nor discouraged, victory is nigh. The poor shall not always be forgotten is the word of promise, and shall it not come to pass? In these few lines I have endeavoured in my own humble way to give a brief outline of the path I have trod, and the good to be reached in this great and good work, viz., freedom from landlord tyranny and oppression, for “Britons never, never shall be slaves.” Now, to conclude, I beg to be excused for what may appear to be egotistical in this humble note. The circumstances of the case demand it. Did not Nehemiah of old do the same, and who will say that he was an egotist? – I am, &c., JAMES LEONARD, the Evicted Delegate.

P.S. – I cannot express the gratitude I feel towards my friends and countrymen in Glasgow and elsewhere who are so nobly taking up my case. It is certainly a fulfilment of what I have always believed, viz., that “in some way or other the Lord will provide.”

1884 January 24 Aberdeen Press & Journal

STEAMER STRANDED IN THE ORKNEYS. – A boat reached Kirkwall yesterday from Rousay, and brings the intelligence that the steamer Lizzie Burroughs, trading between Kirkwall and Rousay, Evie, and Rendall, has been stranded by Sunday’s gale on the island of Egilshay, a few miles from Rousay, where the steamer had been anchored in a sheltered position, and the crew were on shore when she broke from her anchor. The steamer is reported by the captain to be considerably damaged, there being several holes in her bottom. Assistance was sent from Kirkwall yesterday afternoon. With favourable weather it is thought that the steamer may be floated off.

1884 January 24 Inverness Courier

ORKNEY – THE EVICTED CROFTER. – A correspondent writes from Orkney – Mr James Leonard, the crofter evicted from Digro, Rousay, has been living in Kirkwall since the Term, and has been fully employed at his trade of a mason. Leonard’s employment at his trade, while he lived in Rousay, was very intermittent, and he had to eke out a miserable living by teaching singing classes during the winter. In addition to his earnings as a mason, Leonard has received several remittances from sympathisers in the South, and is now better off than ever he could have been had he been allowed to remain in his native Rousay.

1884 January 26 Aberdeen People’s Journal

RESULTS OF GIVING EVIDENCE BEFORE THE CROFTERS’ COMMISSION. – Professor Lindsay, writing in the Pall Mall Gazette of Thursday night, says:- “You have from time to time shown an interest in the crofters of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Will you permit me to state what has befallen certain crofters’ delegates in Orkney? It may be in the recollection of your readers that at a sitting of the Commission in Kirkwall on the 23rd of July 1883, an Orcadian proprietor, Lieutenant-General Burroughs, of Rousay and Viera, refused to promise that no harm should be done to crofter delegates for giving evidence, and that a Rousay delegate, James Leonard, thereafter proceeded to give evidence ‘at his own hazard.’ On September 22 last two petitions of ejectment and removal were presented in the Sheriff Court at Kirkwall by Mr John MacRae, writer, Kirkwall, law agent for Lieut.-General Burroughs, against the above-mentioned James Leonard and a fellow-delegate, James Grieve, and in consequence both these delegates are evicted from their holdings. These cases, however, are worse than mere evictions. In the petition against Grieve the landlord asked not only for eviction, but for power to interdict the defendant “in all time coming” from entering “into any other subjects belonging to” him; and in order to make matters sure, the landlord actually asked for power to evict Malcolm Grieve, the defendant’s brother, explaining in the petition that he has no desire to evict Malcolm, provided he pays “due respect to the conditions under which possessions of the estates of Rousay and Viera are held.” It thus appears from the eviction warrants, service copies of which are now in my possession, that two Rousay delegates who were elected by their fellows to give evidence before a Commission appointed by the Government to inquire into their grievances, have been evicted from their homes, and one at them interdicted from entering on any house on the estate, and his own brother prohibited from sheltering him. The houses from which Leonard and Grieve were evicted were, I understand built by themselves – Leonard’s in 1872, and Grieve’s in 1873. Leonard has received in compensation £20, the estimated value of the woodwork in a house built wholly by himself. He is the father of nine children, four of whom are under six years of age, and his wife was confined of her youngest child between the service of the eviction warrant and his removal from the house which he had built for himself, and from the croft which he had tilled for upwards of twenty years. It cannot be said that the proprietor acted illegally in all this; but does not the fact that such things are possible, and are done, call for some alteration in the law. How can a Royal Commission on crofters’ grievances be expected to elicit a tithe of the truth if such thing can he done with impunity to witnesses after they have given evidence?

Some time after the sitting of the Commission at Kirkwall, General Burroughs, it is reported, received a threatening letter. The crofters indignantly deny all knowledge of the matter, and the writer is still unknown. It was the occasion, however, of proceedings which ought to be made known. On the 16th August Sheriff Thoms, the Procurator Fiscal, Mr. MacRae, and the Superintendent of Police, Mr. Grant, with others, came to Rousay from Kirkwall in a gunboat. Mr Grant, accompanied by the Procurator Fiscal’s clerk, went to the farm-house of Essaquoy, where Frederick Leonard, aged fourteen, the son of the delegate James Leonard, was herd boy. They took the boy away without producing a warrant or summons, he says, to the schoolhouse, where young Leonard found the Procurator Fiscal awaiting his arrival. There the boy was made to write on a sheet of paper, and after some detention was dismissed. Now, sir, I ask you to put these two incidents of eviction and examination together, and to remember that Mr. MacRae, the public prosecutor, is also John MacRae, writer, Kirkwall, law agent to General Burroughs. In his private capacity he acted as legal adviser to the proprietor in evicting and interdicting a witness before the Crofters’ Commission. In his public capacity he examined a delegate’s son, without the protecting presence of the Sheriff, which the law enjoins. On the one hand we have a Royal Commission unable to protect its own witnesses; on the other we have a Public Prosecutor, one of Her Majesty’s legal officials, seizing and examining a witness’s son in what is alleged to be an illegal way. I am far from insinuating that Mr. MacRae meant to use his public position to further his client’s private interests, or that he did so; but I ask you to consider the effect on the crofter population of Orkney; and I further ask whether the proceedings in the case of the boy Leonard do not warrant the public demanding an official inquiry on the part of the Lord Advocate, or of the Home Secretary, as to the manner in which the officials of the Orkney Sheriff Court conduct their business?”

1884 February 4 Aberdeen Free Press

GENERAL BURROUGHS AND THE HIGHLAND CROFTERS. – Lieutenant-General Burroughs sends the Pall Mall Gazette the following reply to the grave statements made by Professor Lindsay his letter headed as above:-

My attention has just been drawn to a letter in your paper of the 24th ult., signed “Thomas M. Lindsay,” dated Free Church College, Glasgow, January 21. The writer of this letter, in alluding to the appearance of the Free Church minister in the island of Rousay, Orkney, N.B., his precentor or clerk, and two of his congregation, discontented delegates of my tenants against me before the Royal Commission (Highlands and Islands) in Kirkwall, on the 23rd of July, 1883, truly states that I refused to make any promise that notice should be taken of what these so-called “delegates” had said and should say against me. But this writer omits to mention that I was only asked to do so after they had vented their malevolence against me as reported in detail in some four columns of local newspaper, which – although they admit when questioned by Lord Napier that “General Burroughs encouraged many good things on the island in a moral and social way. His example in many respects was a model to proprietors…..The proprietor showed a very good moral example – he discouraged all forms of vice…..He took a great interest in educational matters; he was kindly in his manner with people” – yet they describe me as an un-Christian (I am a member of the Church of England, and a regular attendant at the parish church), inhuman, unrighteous, unjust, oppressive, &c., &c. After four columns of abuse and misstatements hurled at him, would Mr T. M. Lindsay, I ask, have acted otherwise than I did.

General Burroughs then goes into the subject in detail, and finishes as follows:- In conclusion, I would beg to say that up to the arrival of the Crofter Commission in Orkney, peace, happiness, goodwill, and contentment prevailed in Rousay between my tenants and myself. Only about three years ago, when I returned home after a short absence, during which I had been promoted to be a major-general, a large body of tenants welcomed me on my arrival at Trumland Pier, Rousay, and presented me with an address of congratulation on my “well earned promotion,” and they expressed the hope that I was now about to retire from war’s alarms and quietly settle down at home. They took the horses out of my carriage and dragged it up the avenue to my house. Nothing in the interval between that time and the visit of the Royal Commission to Orkney had occurred to disturb the good feeling then subsisting between my tenants and myself. I left home in the winter of 1882-83, and paid a visit to the Continent. On my return in July, 1883, to my great surprise I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly assailed in the very spiteful manner in which I was attacked by certain so-called “delegates” before the Royal Commission. The more I have inquired into this agitation the more convinced I am that it is an exotic product which has been fostered into growth by the unscrupulous agency of interested but outside agitators.

1884 February 9 Aberdeen People’s Journal

GENERAL BURROUGHS AND THE EVICTED CROFTERS. – General Burroughs has replied at some length to the charge brought against him of evicting two of his tenants in the Isle of Rousay in consequence of evidence given by them at the Highland Commission. Neither of these men, he says, ever were his tenants, the great majority of whom have no sympathy with them. James Grieve, one of the two, returned to Rousay after an absence in the Colonies of some twenty-five years, boasting of having made money, and that he was looking out to buy land or to take a farm. He married a housemaid who had been for some years in the General’s house, and out of kindness to her, and contrary to the estate rules against squatters, he was permitted for a time to squat on his elder brother’s farm to enable him to look out for a place to suit himself. Years passed, and though farms were let and sold none of them would suit Grieve, who continued a squatter to the last. James Leonard, the other of the two men, is by trade a weaver and mason, and is likewise precentor in the Free Kirk and a teacher of singing. Not being the eldest son, he has no right to his father’s farm croft – on which, however, during the General’s absence abroad, and when there was no factor on the estate, he created a lot for himself, which he occupied rent-free. Up to the arrival of the Commission “peace, happiness, goodwill, and contentment prevailed in Rousay,” and the agitation which has recently prevailed the General describes as “an exotic product fostered into growth by the unscrupulous agency of interested but outside agitation.”

1884 February 14 Glasgow Herald

VESSEL FLOATED IN ORKNEY. – The steamer Lizzie Burroughs, stranded at Vaddy [Egilsay], Orkney, during the heavy gales three weeks ago, has been got off by means of pontoons and empty casks, and taken to Rousay Island. The damage is very serious, but a committee of the directors of the company to whom the ship belongs having examined her are of opinion that she can be repaired. A gale of southeast wind broke out with renewed force, over the Orkney Islands yesterday, and the mail steamer from Aberdeen had to put back, there being a fearful sea running in the North Sea.

1884 February 15 Aberdeen Press & Journal


PROCURATOR FISCAL AND PRIVATE AGENCIES. – Mr Cameron asked the Lord-Advocate whether Mr John Macrae, Procurator-Fiscal for Orkney, was then a private agent of General Burroughs; whether in connection with proceedings consequent on the receipt of a threatening letter by General Burroughs, Mr Macrae proceeded to the Island of Rousay in a gunboat, along with the superintendent of the Kirkwall police, and arrested Frederick Leonard and Samuel Mainland, lads of 14 and 15 years of age respectively, and sons of obnoxious crofters; whether Leonard was examined as a person suspected of complicity in the crime or as a witness; if as a prisoner would he explain why was he not examined in presence of the Sheriff; and if as a witness why was he made to give specimens of his handwriting by writing to the Fiscal’s dictation; whether Mainland was arrested and brought to Kirkwall for examination as a witness or as a suspected party; if as a witness, why was he not cited for precognitions in the usual manner, and why was he not examined before the Sheriff; and, if as a prisoner, why was he not detained in the hands of the police until examined; and whether he received the usual caution that anything he said would be used against him; whether it is a fact that Mainland was subjected to two hours examination, and made to sign his name several times; and if he would lay before the House a copy of the boys’ precognitions or declarations, and also of the warrants, if any, under which they were arrested.

The LORD-ADVOCATE – I am informed that Mr McRae, Procurator-Fiscal, is the private law agent of a General Burroughs. In connection with a threatening letter received by General Burroughs, the Sheriff of the county accompanied the Procurator-Fiscal and the Superintendent of Police, who is also a sheriff’s officer, in a gunboat which was then at the service of the Sheriff as a member of the Fishery Board to the island of Rousay. Frederick Leonard was not arrested, but voluntarily gave evidence in precognition as a witness. The Procurator-Fiscal states that when his examination was concluded, he was satisfied that he could give no information bearing on the charge, and he then asked him to give a specimen of his handwriting for the boy’s exoneration. Mainland was arrested on suspicion, under warrant of the Sheriff, and brought to Kirkwall. He was permitted by the police officer, on his own responsibility, to sleep with his brother, instead of being detained in prison. He did receive the usual caution from the Sheriff. His declaration was very carefully taken by the Sheriff, and occupied something over an hour. He signed each page in the usual way, as well as the marginal additions, The case is still under investigation, and I must decline to depart from the invariable rule under which the precognitions are kept private, and also the declarations, while inquiry is proceeding. I have, however, no objection to lay on the table of the House the warrant for Mainland’s apprehension, if it is desired.

Sir GEORGE CAMPBELL – May I ask whether any measures are in progress to obviate the scandal of a public officer like the Procurator Fiscal being at the same time private agent for the parties? (Hear, hear, and cheers.)

The LORD-ADVOCATE – The question has been very fully gone into, as my Hon. friend will find from the report of the Royal Commission relating to the Scotch Law Courts about 12 or 14 years ago. Speaking from recollection, the majority of the Commissioners thought there should be no absolute rule laid down against the double offices being held by one person; but recently, in point of fact, wherever the salary has been such as would enable a proper person to be obtained for the sole duty of Procurator-Fiscal, we have made it our business to obtain such a person.

Mr MACFARLANE asked whether it was not common in Scotland for gentlemen to act jointly as public prosecutors and private agents, and whether this was consistent with the impartial administration of the law?

The LORD-ADVOCATE – I am afraid that, except in a very few of the larger places in Scotland, the salaries are not such as would obtain the sole services of the proper sort of man for the place, and accordingly it is for the country to consider whether they would pay a very largely-increased salary in order to obtain the sole services of men who, if they were confined to the service, would probably have little to do in some places, and, therefore, would have much less of the qualifications to perform these duties than they have now. That is a matter of very great difficulty. I may say that, speaking for the procurators-fiscal of Scotland, as a whole, I see no reason for making an exception in this case, because, whenever they find, even when there is no restraint imposed upon them by the terms of their office, the least likelihood of there being any apparent collision between the discharge of public duty and private employment, they surrender private employment in favour of the discharge of public duty.

Mr MACFARLANE gave notice that he would, on an early day, call attention to the matter, and move a resolution for the removal of this scandal, (Hear, hear.)

THE ROUSAY CROFTERS’ CASE. – Dr CAMERON asked the Lord-Advocate whether it was true that General Burroughs, a landed proprietor of Orkney, who refused to give the Royal Commissioners appointed by Her Majesty to inquire into the condition of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland any assurance that he would not dispossess his tenants in consequence of any statements made in evidence before the Commission, had since evicted two of the crofter witnesses; whether it was true that he had obtained in the Sheriff Court of the county a decree of eviction against the brother of one of the witnesses to be carried out in case he sheltered his evicted brother or his family; and whether, in all or any of the cases, the decree granted was one of summary ejectment.

Mr DALRYMPLE – Before the Lord-Advocate answers the question, may I be permitted to ask whether he has received information to the effect that the witnesses referred to in the question were not crofters, but only relations of crofters, who were only permitted to remain temporarily in charge as squatters; and whether the relations existing between General Burroughs and his tenants had not been of an entirely peaceful character up to the period of the unfortunate excitement caused by the Crofter’s Commission.

The LORD-ADVOCATE – It is the case that General Burroughs, in September last, raised two actions in the Sheriff Court, in each of which two defenders were called. The action was for the removal of Peter Leonard and James Leonard from the farm of Digro at the term of Martinmas following. The father of Peter and James Leonard had been tenant of that farm – he had died within the year – and the object of the action appears to have been to obtain the removal of James Leonard as a squatter, occupying without title – Peter Leonard, who is a cabinetmaker in Kirkwall, having been called only as heir-in-law of his father. The other action was for the summary ejection of James Grieve and the removal of Malcolm Grieve, his brother, from the farm of Outerdykes, the object being in this case to eject James Grieve as a squatter without title, Malcolm Grieve having been made a party to the action only to provide for the possible event of its turning out that he had sub-let part of the farm to his brother, contrary to the rules of the estate. James Leonard and James Grieve both gave evidence before the Royal Commission. No appearance was entered, or defence made, in either action, and the Sheriff, therefore, as a matter of course, granted decree as craved in both of them. In answer to the additional question, I have to say that the point whether the men were tenants or squatters was not officially raised or disputed as there was no defence; and on the last part of the question, as to which there has been a dispute, it may be right to refer to the evidence given before the Commission, and letters which have appeared in the newspapers, and which, I believe, will form part of the print of the Commission, particularly to the letter dated 13th October, in which General Burroughs’ explanation and representations are given.

Dr CAMERON – I beg to give notice that on an early date I shall call attention to the conduct of General Burroughs in this matter.

Mr MAFARLANE – I understood the Lord-Advocate to say that one of these witnesses was a tenant and the other was a squatter. I wish to remind him that last year, in the Agricultural Holdings Act, he accepted an amendment of mine requiring that a yearly tenant should receive six months’ notice; and, if that Act is in force, how does it come that this tenant can be ejected summarily?

The LORD-ADVOCATE – The hon. member must have misunderstood my answer. I carefully avoided giving an opinion, not having the information on which to form an opinion as to whether the men were tenants or squatters. The matter has not come officially before the court. The last part of the question of the hon. member is very easily answered. The Agricultural Holdings Act did not come into operation until the 1st January of this year, and they were removed in October of last year. (Laughter.)…..

1884 March 21 Edinburgh Evening News

TWO MEN DROWNED IN ORKNEY. – A boat which arrived at Kirkwall yesterday from Rousay Island, reported that on Tuesday while two men belonging to the island, named William Louttit [31] and John Kirkness [27], were crossing Eynhallow Sound to the mainland for the purpose of procuring medical assistance [for John’s father James], there being no resident doctor in Rousay, the boat was sunk by a squall of wind, and both men perished. The accident was witnessed from the shore, but no assistance could be rendered. Both men were married, and leave widows and families. The accident has cast a deep gloom over the whole district.

[These were Wasbister men – Agricultural labourer William Louttit, Lower Blackhammer, was married to Margaret Gibson, Broland. They had three children; Maggie Jessie, Isabella, and William. Stonemason John Kirkness, Grain, married Isabella Anne Mainland in 1879. They had two children: John and Mary Jemima].

1884 June 25 Dundee Evening Telegraph

AN EVICTED CROFTER APPOINTED A LAND LAW REFORM LECTURER. – James Leonard, who appeared before the Royal Commission as a crofter delegate from the Island of Rousay, Orkney, and was afterwards evicted by General Burroughs, proprietor of the island, on account of the evidence he gave before the Commission, has been offered an appointment as lecturer in the interest of land law reform by the Highland Land Laws Reform Association of London. Mr Leonard is presently residing in Kirkwall, and has been occupying some of his time during the past winter in teaching music. He is a man of considerable ability, and much above the average crofter.

1884 August 14 Aberdeen Journal

SALE OF FARMS IN ORKNEY. – A number of farms belonging to Colonel Balfour of Balfour and Trenabie were yesterday put up to auction at Kirkwall, and in most instances high prices were realised. The farm of Bu of Orphir, consisting of 138 acres, put up at £2800, was knocked down to Mr Malcolm, Isbister, at £3800. The island of Eynhallow, in the parish of Rousay, consisting of 173 acres, put up at £1300, was knocked down to Mr Allan Gordon Cameron at £1495…..

1884 August 26 Aberdeen Press & Journal

SHIPPING CASUALTIES IN ORKNEY. – Intelligence reached Kirkwall yesterday afternoon that the steamer Lizzie Burroughs, trading between Kirkwall and Rousay, while sailing between the latter island and Egilshay, met with an accident. It is said that her boiler burst, but no person on board was injured, and that the crew succeeded in taking the steamer to Trumland pier, Rousay……..

1884 September 13 Aberdeen Press & Journal

MEETING GENERAL BURROUGHS’ TENANTRY. – A very pleasing meeting was held in Sourin Public School, Island of Rousay, of which General Burroughs is proprietor, on Thursday evening, to witness a presentation of a piece of silver plate to the esteemed wife of the proprietor on behalf of the school children of the island. Mr Sinclair of Newhouse presided, and Rev. Alex. J. Pirie, United Presbyterian Church, in making the presentation, consisting of an elaborately chased silver salver (furnished by Messrs Marshall, Edinburgh), paid a high compliment to General and Mrs Burroughs, referring particularly to the latter’s efforts for the good of the islanders, and to her conducting a Sabbath school herself at Trumland House. Mrs Burroughs personally replied, referring in a few graceful sentences the kindness shown her since she came as a bride to the island fourteen years ago. One of her chief pleasures, along with her husband, was to work for the benefit and advancement of the island and its inhabitants, and though sometimes they might make mistakes, and even fail to be understood by some, yet it was very cheering to them when they felt that their friends recognised that their intention was to do their best. General Burroughs added a few words of thanks for the honour Mrs Burroughs had received. Nothing, he assured his audience amid cheers, could give his wife and himself more pleasure than to find their own well-meant endeavours to promote peace and well being in the island so handsomely appreciated. He trusted the present kindly feeling existing between them all would never be broken or disturbed.

1885 February 28 Aberdeen Weekly Journal

HURRICANE AND SNOWSTORM – WRECKS AT ORKNEY. – The smack Bella, of Kirkwall, has gone ashore on the rocks on the west side of Rousay. The post boat which runs the mails between Stronsay and Auskerry Island has been wrecked. Two or three small boats have also been wrecked in the North Isles. A schooner was seen off the Moulhead of Deerness during the gale running under bare poles, but she has not turned up at Orkney. Reports of the storm from the North Isles state it to have been very severe. Houses have slates taken off, and in some places roofs have been tirred. The schooner Lima, of Leith (Smith master), a trader between Leith and Kirkwall, left Leith on Thursday night, and when up in the Orkneys had to heave to and run before the gale. The captain and crew, who belong to Orkney, went through Stronsay Firth, through Calf Sound, and brought up in Pierrowall Roads, Westray, about 25 miles past her destination. The vessel has received slight damage, but only one sail was spent.

During the hurricane on Saturday night the smack Elizabeth, of Kirkwall (Campbell, master and owner), has drifted from her anchors in Scapa Bay, and gone ashore. The [snow] drift rose on Saturday in great clouds, making heavy wreaths on the roads, and all communication is stopped. The roads are impassable. Several machines left for Stromness, and were unable to get there. One gentleman had to get himself, his pony, and machine dug out of the snow. A commercial traveller from Glasgow had to abandon his machine half-way to Stromness. The mail to Finstown had to be conveyed by foot messengers. The gale still is blowing, with increasing fury.

1885 March 23 Glasgow Herald

Our Kirkwall correspondent telegraphs: – The barque Atlantic, of Tonsberg, 592 tons, Captain Anderson, has gone ashore on the Holm of Scockness, to the east of the island of Rousay, Orkney, having lost her rudder in the heavy gale and went to pieces. The vessel was from Risør [Norway] for Belfast with ice, and had been 19 days out from the former port. With great difficulty the crew, numbering 12 hands, succeeded in getting ashore, although the sea was running very high. The shipwrecked sailors had their wants attended to by the islanders.

1885 March 30 Aberdeen Press & Journal

DEATH OF AN ORKNEY MINISTER. – Rev. James Gardner, who for the long period of 42 years has been minister of the parish of Rousay and Egilshay, died on Saturday. Mr Gardner was very much respected. Being of a retiring disposition, he scarcely ever took a prominent part in debates in the Church Courts. Mr Gardner’s wife predeceased him, but he is survived by two daughters, who are both married.

1885 May 2 Aberdeen People’s Journal

ROUSAY AND EGILSHAY SCHOOL BOARD. – There were eight candidates for the five seats. Those elected were: – James Leonard, Kirkwall, 82 [votes]; Rev. Archibald McCallum, Free Church, Rousay, 70; Lieutenant-General Burroughs, 64; J. Craigie, Hullion, Rousay, 56; James Johnston, Tankerness, 33. Unsuccessful – J. Sinclair, Newhouse, 24; S. Gibson, Bigland, 16; George Murrison, factor to Lieutenant-General Burroughs, 15. The fact that James Leonard, the evicted crofter, has been placed at the top the poll has caused some excitement here.

1885 May 13 Edinburgh Evening News

A NOVEL CALL. – After Divine service on Sunday, in the Established Church, Rousay, Lieutenant-General Burroughs proposed that the Rev. Mr Pirie, U.P. Church, be invited to accept the charge. The idea was to combine the two churches, Mr Pirie being a great favourite in Rousay. It is believed Mr Pirie will not accept the offer.

1885 May 19 Aberdeen Free Press

THE PROPOSED PRESBYTERIAN UNION ROUSAY, ORKNEY. – ln the U.P. Church, Rousay, Orkney, on Sunday, the Rev. A. J. Pirie referred to the proposal made by General Burroughs in the Established Church in the island the previous Sunday, to the effect that both congregations should unite with him (Mr Pirie) as minister. Mr Pirie said that the proposal had been made without any communication with him, and explained that, however desirous they might be of union with other Presbyterians, they could not as Voluntaries unite with the Church of Scotland so long as that Church was established by law.

1885 June 12 The Scotsman

LIVELY PROCEEDINGS AT ROUSAY SCHOOL BOARD. – The Rousay School Board have agreed to report to the Parochial Board a deficiency of £410, which will necessitate an assessment of 2s 6d per pound. It was also agreed to dismiss their clerk [George McCrie], and to appoint a committee with power to take legal steps to make him give up the Board’s books if necessary, whereupon the chairman, Lieutenant-General Burroughs, resigned his seat on the Board, and the Rev. Archibald MacCallum was appointed chairman during the Board’s tenure of office. The meeting, which was a very noisy one, lasted six hours and a half.

1885 August 6 Aberdeen Evening Express

ELECTION OF A MINISTER AT ROUSAY. – At a meeting of the parish church of Rousay congregation, held yesterday, a vote was taken between Rev. Mr Spark, Boddam, and the Rev. McLaren, Perth, and the Rev. Mr Falconer, Foxmay, as minister of Rousay. In the concluding vote the Rev. Mr Spark was elected by one of a majority over the Rev. Mr McLaren, in which the minority also unanimously acquiesced.

1885 August 25 Aberdeen Press & Journal

NEW LIGHTHOUSES FOR ORKNEY AND SHETLAND. – The Trinity yacht Galatea left Kirkwall for Granton yesterday. It is understood that it has been agreed to put one new lighthouse on Sacquoy Head, Rousay, Orkney, and another on the west side of Shetland.

1885 September 23 John o’ Groat Journal

ORKNEY. – At a meeting of Rousay and Egilshay School Board held on Friday – Rev. Mr MacCallum, F.C., chairman – notices of motion to be given at the next meeting were read that the teachers of Sourin and Wasbister schools in Rousay, and the teacher of Egilshay Island be informed that their services will be dispensed with. It may be remembered that at the last election for members, Mr Leonard, evicted crofter, and Rev. Mr MacCallum were at the top of the poll, and afterwards General Burroughs resigned his seat, and James Grieve, the other evicted crofter delegate, was elected in his stead.

ORDINATIONS. – …..The Rev. Mr Spark, late of Boddam, Aberdeenshire, was yesterday ordained as minister of the Established Church, Rousay. This is the first ordination in Rousay since the Disruption in the parish church.

1885 September 25 Shields Daily Gazette

FISHING BOAT DISASTER THE NORTH. – Intelligence has just reached Kirkwall that wreckage has come ashore at Skaill, Sandwick, Orkney, a short distance from where some of the wreckage was previously found, which would indicate that two fishing boats have been lost near the same place. One boat, as already reported, is the James McMillan, CN46, [Campbeltown, Kintyre] but the name of the second boat is not known. A sail, however, has come ashore at Rousay with the letters CN and the figures 162. During the gale on Saturday over 200 boats were counted off Birsay.

1885 September 30 Peterhead Sentinel

INDUCTION OF REV. MR SPARK AT ROUSAY. – The Rev. Alexander Spark was inducted to the church and parish of Rousay and Egilsay on 22nd September last, by the Presbytery of the North Isles. The Rev. Mr Caskey of Stronsay, in the absence of Rev. Mr Grant, preached and presided on the occasion. Alter an excellent sermon from Rev. ii., 10, and the usual questions having been put to and satisfactorily answered by Mr Spark, prayer was engaged in, and the Moderator, having descended from the pulpit, formally inducted Mr Spark to the ministry of the charge, the presbytery giving him the right hand of fellowship. Just before the benediction, Lieut. General Burroughs, C.B., stepped forward and, in the name of the ladies of the congregation in most appropriate terms presented Mr Spark with a handsome pulpit gown, cassock, and case of bands. Mr Spark, having put on the gown said, “General Burroughs, l am heartily thankful to you for being the means of conveying to me in name of the ladies, these handsome and beautiful gifts of which I feel myself to quite unworthy. The ladies must have put themselves to a great deal of trouble and expense in furnishing these beautiful gifts, and I hope my future ministry will prove itself worthy of their kindness. I have heard by report of your generous acts and benevolent deeds – not only yours but also those of your excellent lady – and I trust God will long spare you both to prosecute further acts of charity and benevolence.” The benediction having been pronounced, the congregation had the opportunity of shaking hands with Mr Spark as they dispersed. Mr Spark afterwards entertained a large company to luncheon at the manse.

1885 October 12 Portsmouth Evening News

Admiral [Charles] Fellowes, C.B., who has been the guest of Lieutenant-General Burroughs, C.B., at Trumland House, Rousay, joined the flagship of the Channel Fleet [ironclad frigate HMS Minotaur] on Saturday afternoon, and the vessels at once left Kirkwall for the Cromarty Firth.

1885 December 15 Glasgow Herald


THE POLLING IN ORKNEY AND SHETLAND. – Our Kirkwall correspondent telegraphed last night:- Polling in the Orkney and Shetland election began at eight this morning. There are in Orkney nine polling places and in Shetland ten. In Orkney, the weather being fine, there was a heavy poll at all the stations from which word has been received. At Kirkwall 700 out of 1100 voted. Electors from the islands of Rousay, Egilshay, Weir, Gairsay, and Shapinshay were conveyed to Kirkwall by the steamer Lizzie Burroughs and the packet Klydon, and from the time of their arrival till well on in the afternoon the polling booth was constantly full, and a large but orderly crowd of electors were waiting their turn to vote, which in some cases only came after hours of waiting…..  

1886 July 9 Forfar Herald

MR LEONARD LYELL’S CANDIDATURE. – Mr LyeII [Liberal Member of Parliament for Orkney and Shetland] addressed a meeting of Orkney electors at Rousay on Tuesday afternoon, devoting his remarks principally to an explanation of the provisions of the Crofters Bill and how they affected Orkney crofters. He next dealt with the Irish question, arguing that Ireland should have self-government. At the close Mr Lyell was asked why he supported the second reading of the Home Rule Bill if he did not approve of the details. He said that voting as he did left him free to oppose details which he did not approve of. A vote of confidence was proposed, but not seconded. A vote of no confidence in Mr Lyell, because of his action on the Orkney Roads Bill and the Irish question, was proposed, but as it was not seconded, the Chairman did not take a vote.

1886 July 19 The Scotsman

CASES of strained relations between School Boards and their teachers are hardly less frequent now than they were during the years that immediately followed the passing of the Education Act. It is true that there is less litigation now than there used to be; but that is because the points of law have for the most part been settled. The teachers, however, think that many of these points have been settled in the wrong way, and that does not reconcile them the more to what they deem the hardships of their lot. It is very desirable, in the interests of education, as well as of the schoolmasters, that some means should be devised of getting rid of the quarrelling and the irritation that form the chronic state of too many School Boards. As might be expected, it is almost exclusively in small provincial and rural Boards that these difficulties arise. These Boards sometimes include members who are not fitted to command the respect of educated men, and whose interference with school arrangements may be too warmly, though quite naturally, resented by the teachers. Then the petty jealousies and rivalries of a provincial town, or a rural village, are apt to reappear in the School Board, especially when it contains the representatives of the rival Churches. In the great towns the Boards cover a wide area; there is a large choice of well-qualified candidates, and, as a rule, the members are persons of education and good social position. Very rarely, therefore, do we find cases of controversy and of grievance arising between Boards and schoolmasters in the cities and larger towns of Scotland. But it is not the less necessary to cure the evil where it does exist, if that can be done by means that are practicable and just.

An unmistakeable case of what has all the appearance of high-handed dealing occurred lately at Rousay, in Orkney. Mr Moyes, one of the Public School teachers, was dismissed by the Board of Rousay and Egilshay on the strength of a petition against him sent to the Board by persons in the parish who are either crofters or sympathisers with crofters. It seems that after the Crofter Commission visited Kirkwall, someone sent an anonymous letter to General Burroughs, the owner of Rousay, threatening to shoot him. Two boys in Mr Moyes’ school were suspected of having concocted the letter, and the Procurator-Fiscal, having obtained a warrant, went to the schoolhouse and seized the copy-books of the two boys, in order to use them for the purpose of evidence. Now, Mr Moyes’ offence is that he did not resist the Procurator-Fiscal and defy the warrant of the Sheriff. On that ground, and on that ground alone, the crofters and their friends rose up against the schoolmaster, and resolved to boycott him. They found friends within the School Board, who were ready to do their bidding. Another schoolmaster under the same Board, Mr Cooper, was also petitioned against, and was treated in the same way. Let it be noted that in these cases the teachers were turned adrift for a matter which had nothing whatever to do with their ordinary school duties, and for an act failure to perform which would have exposed them to the penalties of the law…..

It may further be noted that in the case of Rousay, public opinion was actually the instigator of the injustice that was done by the Board to the schoolmasters. It was a clear case of the tail wagging the dog, and there may be other cases of the same kind…..

1886 July 30 The Scotsman

Letters to the Editor


Rousay, Orkney , July 26, 1886

SIR, – The School Board of Rousay and Egilshay met on the 23d inst. for the transaction of ordinary business, and took the opportunity of considering your leading article of the 19th inst., in which you refer to recent actions of the Board in terms which the facts of the case do not call for in the slightest degree. As clerk of the School Board, I am instructed to state that the representation of the case on which your article based is entirely unfounded and misleading, and probably deliberately and maliciously so.

The School Board unanimously and emphatically deny that their action, to which you have referred, was brought about by more local feeling on questions unconnected with educational work; and they are fully confident that their action will be approved by all who know the facts of the case, as not only dictated but urgently demanded by those very motives and reasons which ought to influence a body of men entrusted by a community with the charge of their educational interests.

I am not to enter on any discussion or controversy in your columns, and request, therefore, with the more confidence, your insertion of this note in the interests of truth. – I am , &c.          JAMES CRAIGIE, Clerk of School Board.

(There is no reason why this disclaimer should not be published, though the fact will not fail to be noted that it is unsupported by any tittle of evidence, such as supported the representations of the schoolmasters on which our comments were based. [Ed.])

1887 January 18 Dundee Evening Telegraph

THE LATE DAVID MARWICK, OF MELBOURNE. – This gentleman, a younger brother of Dr J. D. Marwick, City Clerk of Glasgow, died on the 8th of December, at his residence in the suburbs of Melbourne. Belonging to a family connected for many generations with the island of Rousay and with Kirkwall, Orkney, he emigrated when a youth to Victoria, and settled in Melbourne, of which he has been a citizen for over thirty years. A successful man of business, and of a warm, generous disposition, he will be missed both in public and in private life. At the time of his death he had almost completed his fifty-fourth year, having been born on the 8th of January 1833. He is survived by a widow, a son, and three daughters.

1887 February 11 Aberdeen Evening Express

THE ORKNEY CROFTERS. – At a meeting of the Rousay crofters – the Rev. Archibald McCallum in the chair – about forty crofters signified their intention of appealing to the Crofter Commission to fix fair rents, and it was stated that others not present intended following the same course. At the close of the meeting a collection was taken to raise a fund for common action.

1887 May 23 Aberdeen Evening Express

ORKNEY CROFTERS. – General Burroughs has intimated to the tenantry on his Rousay estate that he will allow an abatement of 10 per cent on the current half-year’s rent if paid within one month. It is reported that the crofters have resolved, however, not to accept the offered abatement, preferring to let the Crofters Commission settle the point, as they have already made application to have fair rents fixed.

1887 June 3 Aberdeen Press & Journal

MR CHAMBERLAIN AND THE ORKNEYS. – The Secretary of the Kirkwall Workmen’s Union, having written to Mr [Joseph] Chamberlain as to the correctness of the statement made recently by General Burroughs, Rousay, to the effect that Mr Chamberlain had stated to him that Orkney should never have come under the Crofters’ Act, has received Mr Chamberlain’s reply, which is in effect a denial. Mr Chamberlain says he met the General through invitation of a mutual friend, but that the whole interview was private, and that the General was not justified in quoting publicly anything which took place. While he cannot now tax his memory as to details of the conversation, he is quite sure General Burroughs is mistaken. Mr Chamberlain says further that as he was only in the Orkneys for a few hours he did not know enough of the circumstances to pass an opinion, but if there are a considerable number of crofter tenants, he knows no reason why the Act should not apply to the Orkneys.

1887 November 16 The Scotsman

A CROFTER CONFIRMED IN HIS HOLDING. – Proceedings were commenced in the Sheriff Court, Kirkwall, some time ago by General Burroughs, Rousay, to have William Craigie, Cruar, Rousay, ejected from his holding on the ground that he had no title. The crofter resisted the action, and applied to the Crofters Commission to have it declared that he was a crofter within the meaning of the Crofters Act. The Commissioners called for affidavits, and after considering these and other documents, have issued the following interlocutor in favour of the crofter, with modified expenses: – Wick, 12th November 1887. The Commissioners resumed consideration of this application, with affidavits lodged, under the order 21 October last, and whole other documents produced. Find that the applicant is a crofter within the meaning of the Crofter Holdings (Scotland) Act 1886, and hereby decide according; find the applicant entitled to expenses from the respondent; modify the same to the sum of £1 2s. sterling.

1887 November 25 The Scotsman

Letters to the Editor


Rousay, Orkney, November 18, 1887.

Sir, – I observe in The Scotsman of the 16th inst., which reached me this day, a paragraph with the above heading, giving an imperfect account of the particulars of a case decided against me by the Crofter Commissioners. May I ask you to publish my statement of the case?

The following provision exists in all leases on my estate, viz.: – “All assignees, whether legal or voluntary, and all sub-tenants except those recognised in the tack by the landlord, are expressly excluded.”

The farm of Avalshay, enclosed by a stone dyke ring fence, and measuring about eighty-five acres arable and forty-eight acres pasture, in the island of Rousay, was let under the above condition to Mr. Leslie Mainland up to 1876. There was also the usual provision in his lease binding the tenant “to flit and remove himself, his wife, bairns, family, servants, goods and gear furth and from the said possession at the expiry of this tack.” To assist him in cultivating this farm, Leslie Mainland had a brother, John Mainland, and his family occupying one-half of the dwelling-house on the farm, whilst he and his family occupied the other half. He had also a nephew, a sister’s son, William Craigie, occupying a separate house on it called Cruar. Neither John Mainland nor William Craigie was recognised in the tack as a sub-tenant. The two families in the one house quarrelled, and Leslie resigned his lease in 1876. His brother John continued on the farm on a lease from year to year, and he continued his nephew William Craigie in the house he occupied on it, called Cruar. John Mainland threw up his lease in November 1886. The farm was left in very bad order, and I had to take it into my own occupation. William Craigie, the nephew, fully aware that he was bound to flit with his uncle in November 1886, called on me on the 12th October of that year and asked me to allow him to remain in the house of Cruar on the farm of Avalshay until the next May term, to enable him to look out for a house elsewhere. I did so. When the May term arrived, William Craigie again called on me and told me that the local Land Leaguers were urging him to contend with me, but he had no wish to do so. He asked me for a farm then vacant on my estate. I told him to see the factor about it. He did so, but offered so very inadequate a rent that he and my factor did not come to terms. William Craigie thereupon made application to the Crofter Commissioners, and they, as described in the Scotsman of the 16th inst., have decreed that he is a crofter, which means that he and his heirs are to be permitted to squat on the farm of Avalshay as long as they pay a rent to be fixed by the Crofter Commissioners, against whose decrees there is no appeal.

A result of their decision is that with this squatter on it the farm cannot be turned to profitable account without incurring the expense of walling him in; and it is unlettable. It would also appear that every farm-servant may now be decreed to be a crofter and have fixity of tenure in his dwelling.

As there appears to be no appeal against the decisions of the Crofter Commissioners, may I ask you to publish this statement of the case.

In order to point out the effect of the Crofter Holdings (Scotland) Act on landowners in “crofting counties” who have tenants paying £30 a year rent and under, called “crofters,” I may add that under its provisions land occupied by crofters is forcibly taken from landowners without compensation, and is handed over to a privileged class of persons called crofters, who have no just claim to it, and to their heirs and successors for ever, so long as they continue to pay, not its market value, but a fancy rent that may be put on it by the Crofter Commissioners. A continuance of this policy will soon reduce the “crofting” counties to the state of Ireland.

What, may I ask, would the tradesmen of our towns say and do if a Parliamentary Commission were to be appointed to cancel the debts owing to them by their debtors; and to ticket the goods in their shop windows at half their market prices, and compel them to sell at these prices? I think riots and disturbances would soon ensue. And yet this is the treatment being dealt out to landowners in the Highlands and Islands. – I am, &c. F. BURROUGHS.