In Print

Newsprint – 1893

1893 January 4 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY. – The New Year was generally held here on Monday. The day was fine and bracing, and the roads in good condition for allowing friends to pay each other the complimentary visits usual to the season. The custom of “first footing” seems to be gradually disappearing. Reference to the advent of the new year was made in the churches on Sunday.

A great number of boats have been put in the Firth all week. The weather has been favourable, and the fish, though small, abundant.



[In this case a ‘cod’ in Scots refers to a pillow/cushion]

There was a peerie Rousay lad
Who wandered far awa’
Frae bonnie Trumblan’s flow’ry banks
And braes o’ braid Kierfa’.
O’er mony a distant land he roved,
But, ilka step he gied,
A waefu’ pang his bosom rent,
An aye he drooped his heid.
At length footsore, an’ sick, an’ sad,
He cam’ tae London toon,
And in an attic chamber there
The Rousay lad lay doon.
Nae downy bed for him was spread,
Nor pillow o’ saft feather,
An’ sair he craved his shepherd’s couch,
O’ moss and sprigs o’ heather.
An’ sae he begged the lodgin’ wife
Tae dae this kindly deed,
An’ find a safter cod whereon
Tae rest his weary heid.
The lodgin’ wife, wi’ sair amaze,
Up tae the door did rin,
But back she cam’ wi’oot delay,
An’ let her neighbour in.
“What’s this you want, you Rousay lad?
You seek strange things indeed”
“I’d love” he said “a safter cod
Tae lay beneath my heid.”
The twa wives, troth, they cackle lood.
The laddie faa’s asleep,
An’ dreams he’s gone to Blotchinfield
Tae tend his father’s sheep.
Whene’r he hears the laverock’s psalm
Which fills the azure sky,
An’ thrills, an’ trembles at the voice
Of Trumblan’ whimplin’ by.
The stately foxgloves throng i’ troops
Wi’ meadow queen sae sweet,
And a’ the little heather bells
Crowd noddin’ round his feet.
He sees Eynhallow’s crested roost
Dash bright across the firth,
An’ toss its silvery main aloft
In wantonness o’ mirth.
Lo, now, the glorious western light
Streams o’er great Costa’s brow,
The pearly gates are opened; sure,
His griefs are ended now.
The wasted hands are falded noo:
A smile plays round his lips,
And ere the merry wives ken aught,
He’s gien them baith the slip.
An’ they hae made a bed for him
Beneath the smoke-grimed sod,
An’ there the Rousay laddie sleeps,
The cauld clay for his cod.

J. SPARK, in the Deal Paper.

[Mr John Spark, M.A., owner, editor and publisher of the ‘Deal Paper’, was the son of the Rev. W. Spark of Kirkwall, and therefore related to Rousay minister the Rev. Alexander Spark.]

1893 January 18 Orkney Herald

FISHING. – Last week was the most successful week the fishermen have had during the winter season. About 17 tons of haddocks and 3 tons of codlings were landed at Kirkwall, the heaviest fishing being made by the Kirkwall boats, which on the first two days of the week have averaged 6 cwt. The haddocks landed were of a large size, unsuitable for smoking purposes, which made the price fall towards the latter end of the week. Some herrings got to the east of Orkney were retailed in town at three a penny. Most of the large boats are now launched. One made an attempt on Wednesday night, and got bait, but, owing to the storm, the crew never set their lines. Haddocks, from 4s to 6s per cwt., codlings, 4s to 4s 6d per cwt.

1893 January 25 Orkney Herald

There is unfortunately only too much reason to believe that during the gales of last week – probably on Friday night – a vessel was lost, with all hands, in the Westray Firth, or had struck either on Sacquoy Head, Rousay, or the skerries of Skae, Westray, and gone to pieces. From the widely separated localities from which wreckage is reported, it is possible that more than one vessel has been wrecked on the west of the islands. On Monday information came to hand from Deerness, Rousay, Egilshay, and Eday, of wreckage picked up, and from Pharay and Papa Westray of the bodies of two seamen being washed ashore.

Our Eday correspondent writes: – On Sabbath last the body of a man was washed ashore on the island of Pharay. The body, which looks like that of a seafaring man, appears to have been not long in the water. One of the eyes were out. There was a cork jacket on, and “M.R.” was marked in the head of the stockings. The body has not yet been identified. A long boat has also been found near Warness, Eday, but as the upper part is broken off there is no name or number to be found. There were also some cork fenders or buoys and small fragments of wreckage found near the same spot. A pram [small utility boat] was washed ashore at Sea skerry.

At Papa Westray another body came ashore. In the pockets were four photographs and a letter, by which it is hoped to establish the identity of the deceased, who is thought to be either a Dane or Norwegian. Portions of two boats have also been washed ashore.

From Shapinsay it is reported that two life-belts and some boats’ oars have been found, while at Deerness a seaman’s chest, some kind of skin wrap, and a lifebuoy with the name ‘Ino, Stavanger,” upon it, have been washed up.

Saviskaill Bay, Rousay, was full of wreckage on Saturday, and some cabin fittings, deck seats, and part of a compass drifted ashore. On Sunday morning the wind changed, and the bulk of the drift was carried out to sea.

The only vessel answering to the name upon the lifebuoy found at  Deerness is, according to the Bureau Veritas, the wooden screw steamer Ino, at Stavanger, Norway, Capt. Srele, 308 tons register, built in 1882 at Strometennens Vaerft at Stavanger, and owned by the builders. Mr Cowper, Norwegian Consul at Kirkwall, has got instructions to make inquiries regarding the wreck.

A telegram from Westray yesterday afternoon states that three cushions, one initialled “A.S.,” a flask  of turpentine, and a light screen, had been found on the North Side, and a sofa floating near the West Crags. The “A.S.” on the cushion may refer to the master or owner of the Ino.

1893 February 1 Orkney Herald

THE WRECK IN THE NORTH ISLES. – There is now no room to doubt that the vessel which, as reported last week, had been lost in the North Isles was the steamer Ino, of Stavanger, Norway, which left Ardrossan on the 17th ult. for Stavanger. Letters on one of the bodies which came ashore at Papa Westray show that he belonged to that vessel. On the thwart of the pram which was found at Sealskerry, Eday, is branded “Concord, Arendal,” which indicates the builder and place of building and not the vessel to which it belonged.



On Saturday and Monday the following fair rent decisions were received from the Crofters Commission…..

Frederick Burroughs Kirkness, Quoyostray. – Previous rent: £30. Fair rent £19. Arrears: £53. Arrears cancelled: £53
Ann Mainland or Gibson, Classiquoy. – Previous rent: £1 2s. Fair rent £1 2s.
James Craigie, No 3, Frotoft. – Previous rent: £10 10s. Fair rent: £5 15s.

…..In regard to one of the applications from the estate of General Burroughs, an interlocutor has been issued dealing with a disputed right to common pasture to which the Commission finds that the crofter is entitled: –

In the application by James Craigie, Frotoft, Rousay, for right of grazing on the hill of Frotoft, Rousay, the following order has been issued:-

EDINBURGH, 31st December 1892. – The Commissioner having resumed consideration of this application: Finds that in the course of the hearing the applicant made claim to a right of grazing over 100 acres of common pasture or thereby, and amended the application to the effect of setting forth the said alleged right: Finds that the applicant’s son who was examined in support of the application deponed to the existence of that right for a period of thirteen years, and explained that it had been shared by his father along with seven other crofters whose names he submitted: Finds that the respondent while disputing the existence of the right has adduced no evidence in the matter. In these circumstances: Finds that the applicant is entitled to have the said right included as attached to his holding under the Act, and to have the same dealt with in this application. (Signed) W. HOSSACK.

NOTE. – While the evidence for the applicant in support of his claim is somewhat meagre, it is to be observed that no evidence has been led to the contrary, and accordingly the Commissioners feel warranted in dealing with the claim as sufficiently established (Intd.) W. H.

1893 February 8 Orkney Herald

THE steamer Fawn will call at Tingwall, Rendall, on Fridays, both on the passage from Rousay to Kirkwall and on the return voyage, beginning this week.

THE WRECK OF THE STEAMER “INO.” – The four photographs found on one of the bodies washed ashore at Papa Westray having been sent to Ardrossan, which the “Ino” left on 17th January, one has been identified as that of the steward and another is believed to be a portrait of the captain’s wife. The “Ino” had a crew of twelve in all when she left Ardrossan.

1893 March 1 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – ENTERTAINMENT. – On Friday evening a concert in connection with the Wasbister Young Men’s Guild was given in the School Room. There was a large attendance, notwithstanding the boycott of a neighbouring musical association which formally resolved that none of its members should attend. The Rev. Mr Pirie occupied the chair. A long and excellent programme conducted by Mr Peace, teacher, was much appreciated. A debate upon the question “Should Parliament interfere between landlord and tenant?” was engaged in. Mr Fred. Kirkness led for the affirmative, and was supported by Messrs James Craigie, Inspector of Poor, John Inkster, Upper Cogar, Hugh Craigie jr., John Logie and Robert Gillespie. On the other side Mr John Gibson, Langskaill, upheld the principle of non-intervention and his view was upheld by Messrs Gordon; Hugh Craigie, Vacquoy; John Gibson, Hullion; John Inkster, Langskaill; Robert Sinclair and Thomas Marwick, Langskaill. On a decision the affirmative was endorsed by the majority. Dancing followed and was kept up with much zest till an early hour.

1893 March 15 Orkney Herald

Letters to the Editor


SIR, – In your last issue there appeared a report of the annual assembly of Rousay Mutual Improvement Guild. In regretting the appearance therein of a statement reflecting on a neighbouring musical association, the Committee desire me to make it known that such report was unauthorised by them. – Yours, &c., JAMES CLOUSTON, Secretary, R.M.I. Guild.

1893 March 29 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – U.P. CHURCH – VISIT OF SYNOD’S DEPUTIES. – A very successful meeting of the United Presbyterian congregation here was held in the Church on Tuesday, last week, in connection with the forward movement of the Church in foreign fields. There were present – with the pastor, the Rev. W. R. Thomson and Mrs Thomson, from Jamaica; the Rev. J. Rutherford, B.D., of Rothesay, Deputies from the Synod; and Rev. Robert Bonellie, F.C. The Deputies delivered very interesting and instructive addresses on foreign mission work. Mrs Thomson also addressed a women’s meeting upon her work among the females in Jamaica. In the evening there was a largely attended conversazione and magic lantern exhibition, when Mr Thomson passed over the screen a number of beautiful views of Jamaica scenery, and gave racy description of that fair and fertile island.

1893 March 29 Orkney Herald

Letters to the Editor


SIR, – The letter which the gallant general sent to the People’s Journal regarding the Crofter Commissioners’ decisions on his estate of Rousay has gone the round of the newspapers, and therefore claims some notice. The historical part requires no comment, as there need be no doubt of its accuracy, but its closing sentences reveal the attitude which the General takes toward this vexed Land Question. He denounces the Crofters Act as “an audacious and monstrous scheme of bribery and corruption. It appeals to the cupidity of the (crofter) masses, and purchases their votes at the cost of the land-owning classes,” and then “helps to keep a political party in power.” These are certainly strong opinionate assertions, but will the writer point out any crofter constituency that returned a Tory before the passing of the Crofters Act, and returned a Liberal since it became law? And, further, does the General really believe that the crofter masses, as he is pleased to term them, have such inferior intelligence as to be led like a flock of sheep. Doubtless this was the case in former times, when the landlord was more powerful than the king, but these days are ended, and the General should know by this time that the crofters have cast off their serfdom, and have realised their manhood in some measure. The land is the people’s, although they may not have given bits of medals in the shape of coins for it. The whisky, the bread, meat, clothing, the newspapers and the houses which the General mentions may not belong to the people, but the land does. It is this wilful blindness that differentiates between land and other commodities that leads to all the trouble in connection with the Land Question. The fact that General Burroughs, or his predecessors, gave money for Rousay, does not give him the same absolute ownership as he has in his houses or his whisky, and until these people who call themselves landowners realise this summary idea of landownership, there will be nothing else but land warfare. Where else can living creatures live but on the land, and in the sight of Heaven all men are born equal in their essential humanity. Then, who gave one class of man because they’re the possessors of money, the right to make the great majority to toil and to pour the result of their labours into the landlord’s lap? This state of things may not continue, and only when a real brotherhood is realised will the community be really civilised. – I am, &c., JAMES NICOLSON.

1893 April 26 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY. – Such a favourable spring has not been enjoyed for many years. There was a slight frost on Sunday week, but it seems to have had little effect in retarding vegetation. The grass fields are already quite green, and are at least a month earlier here than last year. Farmers have finished oat-sowing, and are preparing Iand for potato planting.

The boat Lively was launched for the summer last week, and on Monday proceeded to the sea cod fishing.

Now that summer visitors are beginning to arrive, it is hoped that the Friday sailings of the Fawn will be altered to Saturday. If this were done, passengers from the South would get to Rousay direct. As it is they have to spend three days en route in Kirkwall.

1893 May 3 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – THE annual examination for the Orkney and Zetland Association prizes were held in Sourin Public School on Friday. The examination was conducted by Mr James G. Craigie, Clerk to the School Board. There were fourteen candidates, all the schools on the island being represented.

TRAWLER ASHORE. – A Grimsby trawler went aground on the skerries at Point of Wier [Wyre] on Friday, but was floated off with the flood tide on Saturday.

1893 May 10 Orkney Herald

SEVERAL French vessels, suspected of being smugglers, have been dodging about the North Isles during the last week or two, selling spirits and tobacco to fishermen. Some of these vessels were yesterday overhauled by the gunboat Cockchafer, and ordered off the coast.

1893 July 5 Orkney Herald



The division of the Crofters Commission presided over by Mr Hossack heard the following cases in the Sheriff Court Buildings, Kirkwall, on Tuesday last…..

ROUSAY ESTATE. – Jane Craigie, Graystone, Wasbister, was represented by William Corsie, flesher, Kirkwall, who deponed – Area, 2 acres, 2 roods, 17 poles arable. 1 acre, 2 roods, 9 poles outrun; rent, £1; arrears, £6 10s. Stock- 1 cow, 1 calf, 3 sheep. The croft can maintain a cow. Mrs Craigie has occupied the croft for 14 years in succession to her husband, who entered on waste ground about 44 years ago. He reclaimed all the land and erected the buildings. For seven years they paid no rent; from 1856 to 1863 it was 1s; from 1863 to 1870, 2s; and from 1870 to date, £1. Ten chains of coupled stone drains were put in, and 200 yards of stone dyke built. Part of the pasture land was taken from the croft and given to a pauper, but this piece of ground is not included in the area given of the croft. There were so arrears at the passing of the Act.

By Mr ROBERTSON – I never heard that the proprietor gave £2 5s as compensation for improvement, and I am not aware whether Mrs Craigie gets assistance from the Parochial Board, but she did not when I left the island fully three years ago.

James Johnston, No. 1 Frotoft [Breek] – Area, 5 acres arable, 2 acres outrun; rent, £7; arrears, £2. I went to the fishing until the gear wore out, and I was unable to replace it on account of the failure of the fishing. Stock – 1 cow, 1 calf, 1 horse. I have occupied the croft for 12 years is succession to Mr Flaws, reclaimed half an acre, and put some repairs on the roof of the houses. I have until lately driven my cattle to the hill across a corner of my brother’s croft, but be wants to prevent me from so doing. There is another road to the hill, but it is much longer.

By Mr ROBERTSON – This holding was occupied as a blacksmith’s croft. I do not know that I got the croft as a farm. I paid the rent that was asked, but I did not know that I was put in the croft until a blacksmith came. I always paid rent within the year until last Martinmas…..

1893 July 19 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – ON Tuesday evening Mr James Craigie, post-runner, was entertained to supper in Frotoft Public School by his numerous friends on the occasion of his leaving Rousay to undertake similar duties between Firth and Evie – Mr James Sinclair, Newhouse, presiding. In proposing the toast of the guest of the evening, the Chairman complimented Mr Craigie on the able manner in which he had discharged his duty during the long period which he had been connected with the postal service – 17 years – and wished him success in his new sphere. Mr David Gibson, HuIlion, endorsed the remarks of the Chairman and testified to the very obliging disposition of Mr Craigie. Dr Inkster, and the croupier, Mr Donald McVean, teacher, corroborated, congratulating the inhabitants of Evie and Rendall on obtaining the services of so efficient a man, and stating that his successor could not do better than try to imitate him. Other toasts followed. Several of the gentlemen present contributed songs, and a very enjoyable meeting was brought to a conclusion by the singing of “Auld Lang Syne.”

[James Mainland Craigie, Hullion, later Gripps, Frotoft, married Margaret Mainland, Bu, Wyre. They had two daughters, Adelaide and Maggie]

EXAMINATION OF SCHOOLS. – H.M. Inspector, Mr A. R. Andrew, and his assistant, Mr Topping, visited and inspected the schools in this island last week. This finishes their work in Orkney for the year. They left for the south on Tuesday by the [steamer] St Magnus.

1893 August 2 Orkney Herald

THE s.s.FAWN, which left Kirkwall for Aberdeen on Saturday, to undergo her annual overhaul, will leave Kirkwall for Rousay on Tuesday next at 11am, and not on Monday, as advertised.

1893 August 16 Orkney Herald

THE DECISIONS OF THE CROFTERS COMMISSION. – The Crofters Commission have now issued their decisions in the cases which came before them when last in Orkney, and thus bring to a close their work in these islands, all the applications, except a few appeals, being disposed of. By far the largest part of their work has consisted in hearing and deciding on applications for fair rent. On their visit in 1888 they fixed fair rents in 443 cases; on their visit last year in 155; and this year in 220…..The average old rent of an Orkney croft was about £8 15s; the average fair rent is slightly over £6. Over all, therefore, the Orkney crofters have received a very substantial reduction in their rents at the hands of the Commission…..[Here are the figures regarding the two Rousay cases mentioned previously. Jane Craigie, Greysteen, Wasbister. Present rent £1; Fair rent £1; Arrears £6 10s; Cancelled £5 10s. James Johnston, No 1, Frotoft [Breek]. Present rent £7; Fair rent, £5; Arrears, £2; Cancelled, £2.]

BOAT ACCIDENT – NARROW ESCAPE FROM DROWNING. – On Thursday morning two young men named John Reid [Tratland] and James Craigie [Brough], both belonging to Rousay, had a narrow escape from drowning in Kirkwall Bay. They had gone out from Kirkwall for a sail in a small boat, and when about half a mile out the boat suddenly capsized and sunk. The accident was seen from the pier, and a boat was at once manned, and within eight minutes was at the scene of the accident. Both the lads were at this time floating on their backs. Craigie was got into the boat without difficulty, but Reid sank just as the rescuers reached him. A young lad named James Milne pluckily plunged in after him, brought him to the surface, and kept him afloat till he was picked up. Craigie, who was the oldest of the two, was not much the worse of his immersion, but Reid was so exhausted that he had to be carried to his lodgings. He, however, got round before next morning, when, along with Craigie, he returned to Rousay. The boat was recovered during the day. A fresh breeze from the eastward was blowing at the time of the accident, which is attributed to the boat carrying too much sail and too little ballast.

ROUSAY REGATTA. – The annual regatta of the Rousay and Veira Boat Club was held on Friday, in Veira Sound. The weather proved very favourable for the occasion, and a large concourse of spectators assembled to witness the various competitions. The first event was a race for a handsome silver cup, subscribed by the ladies. This race was confined to members of the club. There were four entries, boats 25 ft. (waterline) and under, viz., Sigurd (General Burroughs); Ariel (J. Omond); Sweyn (J. Garrioch); Annie (J. Logie). The first part of the course was tacking to windward to the first buoy at the Grande of EgiIshay. At this point the Annie was seen to be leading, closely followed by the Sweyn. The next reach was before the wind. In it the Annie improved her position, and continued to do so on the remainder of the course, coming in an easy winner of the coveted cup. The second race was for boats of 16 ft. and under. The Ariel was entered for this race, but the owners of all the other boats in this class objected to compete with her, and Mr Omond kindly withdrew his entry so as to constitute a race. There were then three entries, the Lily making an easy first. The third race was open to all-comers, and brought out seven competitors: –  Laju (S. Jones); Annie (J. Logie); Sweyn (J. Garrioch); Walrus (J. Leask); Gairsay Lassie (S. Bews); Ariel (J. Omond); Sigurd (Gen. Burroughs) – boats 25 ft. waterline and under. Six of them made a good start, but the Sweyn, being to weather of the starting buoy when the gun was fired, had to put about and recross the line, which placed her at a disadvantage. In this race competition was very keen, the course being covered in shorter time than of either of the preceding races. The Annie again took first place, being closely followed by the Sweyn, the Walrus making an easy third. The next event was the boys’ rowing race, which created considerable amusement, but the most exciting event of the day was the ladies’ rowing race, in which three boats competed. After many attempts they got into line and the starting gun was fired. After the splashing incidental to the start had somewhat subsided it was seen that two representatives from Weir were slightly leading, pulling with a long even stroke. After some tactics, which were not fully understood by the spectators, the course was finished, the first favourite coming home an easy winner. In the last event, the man’s rowing race – there were four entries. Two of the boats fouled on starting, giving the others a good lead, which was kept throughout. The following is the prize list: –

Ladies’ Cup Race (4 entries) – 1, Annie (J. Logie); 2, Sweyn (J. (Garrioch); 3, Sigurd (Gen. Burroughs.) Small Boats’ Race (3 entries) – 1, Lily (W. Logie); 2, Maggie (R. Graham). All-Comers’ Race (7 entries) – 1, Annie (J. Logie); 2, Sweyn (J. Garrioch), 3, Walrus (A. Leask); 4, Ariel (J. Omond). Boys’ Rowing Race (3 entries) – 1, Mainland and Harrold; 2, Miller and Flaws; 3, Pirie and Harrold. Ladies’ Rowing Race (3 entries) – 1, Misses Harrold and Flaws; 2, Misses Flaws and Hutchison; 3, Misses Gibson and Pirie. Men’s Rowing Race – 1, Logie and Corsie; 2, Spence and Harrold; 3, Gibson and Craigie.

At the conclusion of the racing Mrs Burroughs presented the prizes to the successful competitors, after which the company dispersed, all feeling that they had enjoyed the day. A number of the younger people adjourned to a neighbouring hall to prolong their pleasure by a dance, which was kept up with much spirit till an early hour. The committee take this opportunity of thanking all those who contributed towards the funds of the club, and especially the contributors to the ladies’ cup, and those ladies who looked after the commissariat department and supplied the wants of the inner man.

1893 August 18 Dundee Courier

LORD AND LADY GRANVILLE GORDON arrived at Kirkwall, per steamer St Clair, yesterday, shortly afterwards proceeding, per yacht, to Rousay. Lord Gordon has taken Westness House, Rousay, for the shooting season, but on the Rousay Moors this season grouse are to be protected. There are, however, plenty of snipe, plover, hare, rabbits, and ducks.

1893 August 23 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY. – Seldom has such favourable weather been experienced at this season. The excessive heat has been tempered by copious showers and cooling west winds. Even the farmers have been heard to admit that they have no fault with the much-abused clerk of the elements. A fine breadth of early oats was cut down on Trumland Farm in the beginning of last week, but it will be about a fortnight yet before cutting is general here. There is every indication just now that the harvest will be an abundant one. Potatoes are looking well, and free from disease. The season has been a very favourable one for garden produce. Our correspondent saw a beautiful specimen of beetroot grown here which weighed 28 ounces.

1893 October 11 Orkney Herald


TO LET, with entry at Martinmas first, for such periods as may be agreed on, the following FARMS, &c., on the Estate of ROUSAY and VEIRA: –

1. Farm of HELZIGITHA, in the Island of VEIRA, extending to 92 acres or thereby, of which about 35 are arable.
2. BLACKSMITH’S HOUSE and SHOP, at TRUMLAND PIER, ROUSAY. Tenant will have the Rousay Estate work, and the business of the present blacksmith, and if desired, 4 acres of land.
3. Farm of LOWER GRIPPS, SOURIN, extending to 10 acres or thereby, of which about 6 acres are arable.
4. Farm of SECTION VII, FROTOFT, extending to 10½ acres or thereby, of which about 6½ acres are arable.
5. Farm of STANDPRETTY, SOURIN, extending to 21 acres or thereby, of which 10½ acres are arable.

The present tenants of the above will not be offerers.
Full particulars may be obtained from D. J. ROBERTSON, Solicitor, Kirkwall,
by whom Offers will be received.
The highest or any offer may not be accepted.

1893 October 18 Orkney Herald

SAD BOAT ACCIDENT. LOSS OF SIX LIVES. – A sad boat accident, resulting in the loss of six lives, occurred in Eynhallow Sound about noon on Wednesday. A small square-sterned boat, which was temporarily being used to carry the mails between Evie and Rousay, capsized off Aikerness, Evie, soon after starting for Rousay. The boat had safely crossed from Rousay earlier in the day, and though there is always a rapid tide through the sound, and a strong gale was blowing from the south-west, the men did not think there was any danger. Beside the two boatmen, John Reid and James Sinclair, there were on board Mrs. Gibson, jr., of Lochside, Stenness, and three of her children. The boat was close-reefed, and was only a short distance from the shore when she was suddenly struck by a squall and capsized. She turned over several times and then drifted northwards between the island of Eynhallow and Rousay out to the Atlantic. The woman and children seem to have gone down almost at once, but the men were seen for a little time, Reid clinging to the bottom of the boat till it turned over again and he lost his hold. The accident was seen from the shore, and steps were at once taken to render help. A boat which was lobster-fishing in the neighbourhood and boats from the shore went to the spot where the accident had occurred and after the drifting boat, but were too late to render any assistance. Much sympathy is felt with the relatives of those who have lost their lives. The two mail-bags came ashore at Westness, Rousay, on Friday, and the mails were delivered the following day. Many of the addresses were almost illegible. The oars and loose boards in the bottom of the boat have also been washed ashore, but no trace of the missing bodies has yet been found.

In the United Presbyterian Church, Rousay, on Sabbath the Rev. A. I. Pirie preached from the text – “O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid; O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Heb. 3. 2). Referring to the post boat fatality, he said – “We meet to-day under the shadow of heavy and unexpected bereavement. The disaster that has befallen our post boat and those travelling by it, has thrown a number of households into mourning and desolation, and has stricken this congregation very severely. It is a matter of thankfulness to God, that notwithstanding our large amount of sea-traffic, such accidents have been comparatively rare. The one that has just occurred is peculiarly sad, and touches a very large number of families. These sorrow-stricken and bereaved families have our heartfelt sympathy, and our prayers that the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, may comfort them in all their grief and distress. Our hearts go out very specially to that househoId bereaved of the mother and three little children. That family has already on a former occasion passed through heavy bereavement of a similar nature. Some homes seem to have to endure repeated strokes of adversity, and to have dark clouds of sorrow always hovering over them. The two men who were in charge of the boat were prominent members of this congregation. Mr Reid was the strength and helper of his family and of his aged relatives. He was held in high respect by all – a man of upright character, of kind disposition, and always ready to help wherever his services might be required. This congregation a few years ago showed its appreciation of his Christian integrity and worth by electing him as one of its managers – a trust which he discharged with fidelity and diligence. Our aged friend, Mr Sinclair of Newhouse, has been for a long time one of our most public men. He has served the parish in many capacities, and always fulfilled the duties that devolved upon him with intelligence and faithfulness, frequently putting himself to much trouble and labour to promote the wellbeing of the community. He was a man of strong and decided religious convictions from his early youth. These convictions deepened with his ripening years. He was warm-hearted, sympathetic, and generous in his nature. Early brought to Christ, he began very soon to take part in religious work. The Sabbath-school was his first sphere of labour, and it was one of his latest. Before he was twenty years of age he had begun to teach, and for the long period of fully fifty years he continued to labour in the Sabbath-school. He took a great interest in the instruction of youth, and was himself a most capable and painstaking teacher. During his early life, whilst trading with his ship along the coasts of Scotland and elsewhere, he frequently took part in evangelistic services, and was all through his life a most willing and efficient helper in the prayer-meeting and other services in his district. Connected with this congregation from the beginning, he was thirty-three years ago ordained to the eldership. What he has been to the congregation all these years is not easy to describe. Strong in his attachment to the principles of the church, always taking a deep interest in the work of the session and of the congregation, generous in his support to the funds, and, above all, ever seeking in prayer for a spiritual blessing, he was a tower of strength to our work. The Church, the Sabbath-school, and the prayer-meeting can ill spare such men. May the Lord raise up the children to take the place of the fathers. This sudden and unexpected disaster speaks to us with the voice of God. These men worshiped with us last Sabbath, and they are to-day in the Eternal World. Life is uncertain, and surely the message addressed to all of us is – ” Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh.”

BOAT FOUND, – A small boat, 10½ft. keel, square sterned, and painted light-blue outside, was driven ashore on the north aide of Papa Stronsay on Thursday. It has three fixed thwarts in it, two fitted for a mast, evidently for either a smack or lug rig, but there were no traces of either a mast or sail attached. It had a square iron rollock on each side, fastened with a chain, and two small sail thimbles fastened one on each quarter, evidently for the sheet. It is but slightly damaged. Some think it may be the ill-fated Rousay post boat.

ROUSAY – THE schools in this parish were reopened on Monday after the summer holidays. The attendance was very poor. It is to be hoped that parents will endeavour to send their children to school as soon as possible seeing that the greater part of the Government grant is determined by the attendance of their children.

1893 October 21 The Orcadian

THE RECENT BOATING DISASTER. – Some further accounts are coming to hand of the terrible boating disaster which occurred at Evie on Wednesday last. It seems that though a severe gale of south-westerly wind was blowing, neither crew nor passengers had any misgivings regarding the two-miles’ passage across Eynhallow Sound. Mrs Gibson and her children seemed quite delighted at the prospect of the sail. The boat, however, had scarcely rounded Aikerness Point when it was swamped by the sudden squall. Mrs Gibson and her three children were never again seen, but one of the two boatmen, John Reid, was observed scrambling onto the keel of the boat. He was only there a few minutes, however, when the little craft gave a heavy lurch, pitching the unfortunate man once more into the sea. The two mail bags which were in the boat have been washed ashore at Rousay. A small boat, 10½ feet keel, square-sterned, and painted light blue outside, supposed to be the one  lost at Evie, was driven ashore on the north side of Papa Stronsay last week. It has three fixed thwarts in it, two fitted for a mast, evidently for either a smack or lug rig, but there were no traces of either a mast or sail attached. It had a square iron rollock on each side, fastened with a chain, and two small sail thimbles, fastened one on each quarter, evidently for the sheet. Feeling allusion was made to the sad event in many of the pulpits in Orkney last Sunday. None of the bodies have yet been recovered.

1893 November 8 Orkney Herald

REWARD FOR GALLANTRY. – The Committee of the Royal Humane Society have announced that its medal for gallantry in saving life has been conferred on James Milne, ship-chandler’s apprentice, Kirkwall, who saved John Reid [Tratland, Rousay], aged 17, at Kirkwall on August 10. Reid and another youth were in a sailing boat which capsized about half a mile from the shore. A boat at once went out to render assistance. Reid sank but Milne dived after him, and succeeded in saving him.

ROUSAY – Wednesday was observed as a thanksgiving day for the good harvest, and public worship was held in the three Presbyterian churches.

VERY wintry weather has been experienced all last week, and on Saturday and Sunday there were several showers of snow and hail. Potato-lifting is not yet finished on several farms.

1893 November 15 Orkney Herald

BODY FOUND. – The body of a boy, son of Mr [Robert] Gibson, jr. Lochside, Stenness, and one of the children drowned through the capsizing of the Rousay post boat in Eynhallow Sound on October 11th, came ashore near Burgar, Evie, on Tuesday last week.

1893 November 22 Orkney Herald

BODIES FOUND. – The body of a man, which has been identified as that of John Reid, one of the boatmen who were drowned by the capsizing of the Rousay post boat in Eynhallow Sound on the 11th of October, came ashore  on  Saturday on the west side of the Sand of Evie. The body of Mrs Gibson, Lochside, Stenness, who was lost in the same accident, has been found at Rousay.

A TERRIFIC gale from the north-east burst over the Orkneys on Friday afternoon. During the earlier part of the day the barometer had sunk very low, evidently betokening the approach of a heavy depression. There were occasional light showers of rain, but very little wind. Between five and six o’clock the storm broke with almost the suddenness of a tropical hurricane. Rain fell in torrents, and the wind attained a force such as has never been, recorded previously. The gale continued all Friday night. On Saturday the wind veered to the north-west and abated slightly, blowing fiercely, however, during the showers of rain and snow that fell at frequent intervals. On Sunday and Monday the weather was fine, but yesterday evening a strong gale of wind sprang up from the west. From all quarters accounts came of damage done by the gale…..[In Kirkwall, the Crafty and large portions of Junction Road, Main Street, and Victoria Street were flooded to the depth of six or eight inches…..several houses were partially unroofed… of the windows in St Magnus Cathedral was blown in…..trees were uprooted, fences torn away, and walls overturned… the lower landings of the new [Kirkwall] pier large blocks of stone, several feet square, were lifted from their position and thrown across the west side of the pier…..all the boats at Scapa were sunk…..]

ROUSAY. – A tremendous storm broke over this island on Friday evening about six o’clock, and continued with great violence through the night. Much damage has been done to stackyards, many of the stacks being blown down, and the sheaves in some cases blown out into the sea. The wind was fortunately accompanied by rain or much more damage would have been done in the farm yards. The steamer Fawn had some difficulty in reaching Rousay pier from Evie, where she was unloading when the storm broke out and afterwards drifted a considerable distance, but steam was got up and she regained the pier. Two oars and some planks came ashore here on Saturday, but the storm has been unattended by any loss of life.

1893 November 29 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – POSTAL CHANGES. – Mr John Mainland, Banks, who for a number of years has had charge of the Sourin post office, and by his obliging disposition given great satisfaction, having left the island, Mr Alexander Munro, Old School, has been appointed as his successor.

1893 December 13 Orkney Herald

BODY FOUND. – The body of James Sinclair, one of the boatmen lost in the Rousay post boat on the 11th October in Eynhallow Sound, was found on Saturday morning. This makes the fourth body that has been found of the six lost by the accident.

ROUSAY. – The small mail-boat which plies between Rousay and the Mainland only made the passage twice last week.

The Musical Association was opened last week. This institution now enters on its fifth session – Mr W. Simpson is conductor.

The annual meeting of the Medical Association was held in Sourin, on Saturday, to elect office-bearers for the next year. The affairs financial are in a flourishing condition.

1893 December 20 Orkney Herald

Letters to the Editor


SIR, – I observe in your last issue a statement that during the previous week the mail boat went only twice to Evie, Your informant might make himself more certain as to facts before publishing them, as the mail boat went three times notwithstanding the stormy character of the weather. As this mis-statement must wound hearts already sore enough from the recent sad mail-boat fatality, I deem it a duty to correct it. I will add that, while we have been accustomed to such faithful daily service between Rousay and Evie by those who have paid dearly with their lives, we have already found in their successors men as faithful and as brave, against whom if we have any complaint, that complaint must be that they should venture to cross those wild seas in uncertain weather, which the public would rather they should not. – Yours, &c., ALEXANDER SPARK. Rousay Manse, 15th Dec. 1893.

1893 December 27 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – The schools were closed on Christmas Day and there was a concert in Wasbister Public School in the evening.

The past week has been exceptionally wet and stormy. On Saturday morning we had a severe thunder storm. The lightning flashes were very vivid. The earth is so soaked that ploughing has been at a stand-still for some time.