In Print

Newsprint – 1897

1897 January 27 Orkney Herald

SNOWSTORM. – During Sunday night the wind which was from the north-west increased to a very heavy gale accompanied by showers of sleet and snow. About nine o’clock on Monday morning the gale increased in violence and continued very severe throughout the whole day, blizzard-like showers of snow falling at frequent intervals. Many of the country roads were soon blocked with drifted wreaths of snow. The steamer Iona reached Kirkwall from Shapinsay in the morning and returned in the afternoon, but all other communication by sea was cut off. The mail steamer St Ola arrived at Scapa from Stromness, but did not proceed further, and remained at Scapa till yesterday, when she returned to Stromness, but did not attempt to cross the Pentland Firth owing to the heavy sea. The steamer Orcadia, which should have arrived at Kirkwall from the North Isles on Monday, has not yet arrived, and owing to an interruption of telegraphic communication with the North Isles, there is no information about her. In the south there was a strong gale on Thursday night and Friday, in consequence of which the steamer St Ninian, which was due at Kirkwall early on Saturday morning, only arrived on Sunday morning.

1897 February 10 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – CONCERT. – The children attending Frotoft School, assisted by some friends, gave a very successful and pleasant entertainment on Friday evening. Notwithstanding the snow, the schoolroom was filled. The scholars, under the guidance of Mrs Hadden, their teacher, gave several very effective exhibitions of musical drill with hand-bells, hoops, and dumb-bells. The songs and other pieces in the programme were given with excellent taste and spirit. All the items were enjoyed by the audience, especially the performances of the scholars, and Mrs Hadden deserves praise for the very successful training displayed. On the motion of Mr Pirie, chairman of the School Board, a hearty vote of thanks was given to Mrs Hadden, scholars, and other singers, and also to Mr Hadden and friends who had decorated the school-room very tastefully with evergreens. Tea was served at the close, and the young people thereafter held an assembly in the school-room. The following is the programme: –

Chairman’s remarks; prologue, James Marwick; song, “The Mountain Boy,” scholars; song, “The Song that Reached my Heart,” Mrs Corsie; piano duet, Misses L. Craigie and G. Hadden; dialogue, scholars; action song, junior girls; quartette, “The March of the Cameron Men,” Mrs Corsie, Miss Gibson, Messrs Craigie and McKay; hoop drill, team of junior girls; song, “Eileen Alannah,” Miss Spark; piano duet, Misses A. Craigie and J. Gibson; dumb-bell exercises, team of senior girls; song, “Tommy Atkins,” Mr G. Marwick; song, “Dream Faces,” scholars; trio, “A Little Farm well Tilled,” Messrs Gibson, Craigie, and McKay; dumb-bell exercises, team of senior boys; piano selection, Miss Pirie; duet, “Polly Hopkins,” Mrs Corsie and Mr McKay; “God Save the Queen,” scholars.

1897 February 17 Orkney Herald.

WHO WAS FIRST IN THE SECUNDERBAGH? – Lord Roberts’s book has given rise to a correspondence in The Standard which is of considerable military interest. It is on the subject of the capture of the Secunderbagh in November 1857, and the question mooted is whether Captain (now Lieutenant-General) Burroughs, or Lieutenant (afterwards Captain) Cooper was the first in at the hole in the wall. We are not aware that Cooper himself actually claimed that he was the first man in, but others, among them Colonel Malleson and now Lord Roberts, have made the claim for him. On the other hand, Burroughs distinctly and officially claimed that he was the first of the survivors who entered by the hole in the wall, and all who know him will feel convinced that he is not the man to rob his comrade of an honour. Lord Roberts, in describing the assault which he witnessed, asserts that a Highlander was the first, but was shot as he entered; a man of the 4th Punjab Infantry came next, and he also was slain; that Lieutenant Cooper was third, and that he was immediately followed by Lieutenant-Colonel Ewart, both of the 93rd. Forbes Mitchell, in his account of the storm, asserts that Burroughs was the first officer to enter, and that he – Forbes Mitchell – assisted Lieutenant-Colonel Ewart to enter, he himself following with Lieutenant Cooper. Colonel (now General Sir John) Ewart, according to Malleson, when writing in 1880, said: – “I cannot tell you precisely who was the first through the hole. Captain Burroughs claimed the honour, and certainly he was in before me, as when I jumped through I noticed him inside with his head bleeding from a sabre cut.” The most important contribution to the controversy is however the letter in The Standard signed, “W. G. A., Lieutenant-Colonel (Iate 93rd Highlanders),” who is evidently Lieutenant-General William Gordon Alexander. That officer states that he kept a diary during the whole of the Mutiny Campaign, that he was Captain Burroughs’ subaltern at the capture of the Secunderbagh, and that he was one of the first four officers who entered the breach. His story is that the wing of the 93rd was on a sloping bank facing the Secunderbagh and within close range of it, whilst the artillery were trying to make a breach. After waiting about an hour and a-half Lord Clyde gave the order to storm. Burroughs had for some time been standing on the top of the bank – drawing down a heavy fire by thus exposing himself – so as to get a good start. When the signal was given Burroughs rushed on. He had only to jump down while his company had to rise, climb the bank and then jump down. Owing to the trend of the bank he had twenty yards start of both Ewart and Cooper. Colonel Alexander says that he ran his best to get through the heavy fire and saw Burroughs “go a header” through the hole before there was a man near him; Burroughs was followed in by Cooper and a private, then Alexander after helping Ewart in, entered himself. Colonel Alexander affirms most positively that not a single Native soldier entered by that breach. It is quite clear therefore that Burroughs was the first man who passed through the hole, and the differences of opinion and narrative can easily be explained. The fire was hot, nerves were highly strung, the atmosphere was clouded by smoke and dust, claymores were flashing, tartans and the foxtails of the feather-bonnets were flying in the air. What wonder then if mistakes were made about detail. Moreover, the Highland full dress is such that at a distance it is not easy for a stranger to identify any one individual out of several Highland soldiers. Still, after considering the evidence of Ewart, Forbes Mitchell, Alexander, and Burroughs himself, we have no doubt that General Burroughs was the first man who passed alive through the hole in the Secunderbagh, and we consider the question as now finally settled. – The Broad Arrow.

1897 February 24 Dundee Advertiser

SHOOTINGS LET FOR NEXT SEASON. (From The Field.) General Traill Burroughs of Rousay, Orkney, has let his Trumland shootings in that county to Mr Middlemore, who has Westness, also belonging to the same proprietor. General Burroughs retains Trumland House for his own residence. The shootings extend to about 6000 acres…..

1897 April 14 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY. – The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was dispensed in the Free Church here on the 4th inst. The Rev. A. Isdale, B.D., Kirkwall, conducted the preparatory services on Thursday and Saturday. He also assisted at the table and gave the closing sermon in the afternoon. At all the services, but especially on Sabbath, the attendance was very good.


TO TRAVEL ROUSAY and Part of the MAINLAND this Season, the Entire Horse TIMES AGAIN, the property of JOHN TAIT, Papdale. Times Again (9068) is 8 years old, bred by Mr David Smith, Bleachfield, Campbeltown. He was got by the famed horse Old Times (579) out of Maggie (1728) by Rodgers Horse of Baillies (238l), a son of Sir Colin Campbell (778). He is an exceptionally sure stock getter; has left a lot of very valuable stock in Kintyre; and if put to good mares cannot fail to leave the best of stock, being out of the best breeding blood in Scotland. Times Again stands 16.3 hands high, good feet and legs, and grand action.
TERMS. – Full Insurance, £1 2s 6d, including Groom’s fee.

1897 April 21 Orkney Herald

FATAL ACCIDENT TO A FISHERMAN. – During the storm of last Tuesday a fisherman named John Pirie, one of the crew of the boat Violet of Portnockie, received internal injuries which developed into peritonitis from which he died in Balfour Hospital on Thursday morning. The Violet was off the west side of Rousay on Tuesday afternoon when a heavy sea came aboard and knocked deceased against a thwart, causing serious injuries to the abdomen. The boat reached Kirkwall on Wednesday afternoon and deceased was conveyed to the Hospital where he died the following morning. The Violet left for home in the afternoon with his remains. Deceased was 30 years of age and leaves a widow with two children. His father lost his life at sea about twenty years ago.

NORTH ISLES DISTRICT COMMITTEE. – The statutory meeting of the North Isles District Committee of the County Council of Orkney was held on Tuesday last. Present – Colonel Balfour (presiding), Colonel Horwood, and Messrs Reid and Gibson; also Mr M. Heddle, surveyor. The reports of the road inspectors of the various islands as to the conditions of the highways and specifications of the work, maintenance, and repairs proposed to be executed thereon during the year to Whitsunday 1898, and estimates of the same were submitted, and after consideration were adopted, and the clerk was instructed to transmit the same to the clerk of the County Road Board…..It was ….. resolved that the roads in Eday and Rousay should, during the ensuing season, as in former years, be repaired and maintained under the superintendence of the respective road inspectors. A request from Mr John Gibson, Langskaill, Rousay, to the effect that the report from that island should not be adopted until the members for the island had seen and approved of it was submitted. The meeting while recognising the desirability of the road inspector and the local members being at one on the subject did not consider Mr Gibson had stated circumstances sufficient to justify his request, which was accordingly refused. It was resolved to requisition the County Council to pay over the sum of £382 2s 10d for road purposes and £15 for public health purposes to the district treasurer to meet the current expenditure of the committee…..

SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS. – …..ROUSAY. – The following ten candidates have been nominated for five seats in the School Board: – Lieut.-General Burroughs of Rousay and Veira; Rev. A. Spark, E.C. Manse; Rev. John McLeman, Free Church Manse; Rev. A. I. Pirie, U.P. Manse; Hugh Inkster, Westness; Robert Mainland, Nearhouse; Hugh Marwick, Goodall; Robert Marwick, Woo; Hugh Sinclair, Newhouse; William Grieve, Falldown. Messrs George Gibson, Avelshay, and William Learmonth, Innister, were also nominated, but withdrew.

1897 April 28 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – FROTOFT BIBLE CLASS was closed on Sabbath evening with a service of song. There was a large attendance of the public, the school-room being quite crowded. Mr Pirie gave during the service brief anecdotal sketches of the leading men connected with the origin of the Secession and Relief Churches. He stated at the close that the class had been largely attended during the winter, and that the subjects of study had been the lives of Elijah and Elisha, and the history of the Jews from the exile to the birth of Christ. The choir was under the leadership of Mr D. Mackay, music conductor in the class, and the singing reflected the highest credit on his training. The following was the programme: –

Psalm 67; “Seeking for me,” choir; “Wake the Song of Jubilee,” Miss Mainland and Messrs Mackay and Craigie; “Beyond the Swelling Flood,” choir; “Star of Peace,” Misses Gibson and Craigie, and Messrs Mackay and Craigie; “Prodigal’s Return,” choir; “Sweetest Angel Voices,” Miss Logie; “Scotland for Christ.” Choir; “Where hast thou gleaned to-day,” Miss Craigie and Mr Mackay; “Look and thou shalt live,” choir; “In the hollow of God’s hand,” Misses Gibson and Craigie, Messrs Sinclair, Reid, Gibson, Craigie, Mainland, and Johnston; “Angel’s Song,” choir; “Jubilee Song,” Messrs Mackay, Craigie, Sinclair, and Mainland; “Joy Bells,” choir; “A little more faith,” Misses M. Robertson and A. Reid; “What a gathering,” choir; “Song of Salvation,” Mr Mackay and choir; “Christian Good-night.” Choir.

SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION. – The election of School Board took place here on Wednesday, 21st curt. There were ten candidates for five seats, and the result of the poll was as follows: –

*Rev. A. I. Pirie, U.P. Minister, Rousay – 49
*Hugh Marwick, merchant, Guidal – 45
Lt.-Gen. Burroughs of Rousay & Veira – 39
Robert D. Mainland, farmer, Nearhouse – 32
Robert Marwick, farmer, Woo – 30
Rev. John McLeman, F.C. Minister – 29
*William Grieve, fisherman, Falldown – 28
Hugh Inkster, farmer, Westness – 21
Hugh Sinclair of Newhouse – 20
Rev. Alex. Spark, minister of Rousay – 12

The first five are elected. Those marked * were members of the old Board.

1897 July 7 Orkney Herald

THE CROFTERS COMMISSION will hold a sitting at Kirkwall on Saturday to deal with cases from the estate of General Burroughs, of Rousay and Egilshay.

ROUSAY – PRESENTATION. – On Friday evening last at a meeting of the subscribers held In the Frotoft Public School, Mr Donald [Danny] McKay, post-runner, was the recipient of a public testimonial from the inhabitants of the island. The Chairman (Mr George Gibson, Avelshay,) briefly stated the object of the meeting, and called upon the Rev. A. I. Pirie to make the presentation. The Rev. Mr Pirie, on rising to make the presentation, said that it gave him great pleasure to be there and to have such a pleasant duty to perform. They were all familiar with Mr McKay and daily looked with great expectation for his advent. Owing to Mr McKay’s geniality and willingness at all times to oblige, it was spoken of some time ago to make him some small present in acknowledgment of these qualities. Mr Pirie said that they in Rousay were exceedingly fortunate in having a daily mail, whereas other of the larger Islands are not so well off. This, combined with the fact that the postal arrangements now allowed letters and parcels of a greater weight to be sent, entailed more work on the post-runner, and it had been thought that if Mr McKay had a pony it would facilitate his labours to some extent. He had therefore very much pleasure in handing over to Mr McKay a purse of sovereigns to buy a pony if he thought fit, and if not to lay it past and add to it for the use of himself and the future Mrs McKay. Mr McKay suitably thanked Mr Pirie and the subscribers for such a tangible token of their regard. Owing to the inclemency of the weather there was rather a small meeting, although every district of the island was represented. Mr McKay, it may be mentioned, during the year covers something like 5000 miles in his official capacity.

THE weather, which for some time has been very dry, has now changed, and heavy showers fell on Friday and Saturday, accompanied with a strong southerly wind. The peats are nearly all home, and turnip singling is in full swing. General and Mrs Burroughs arrived at Trumland House on Saturday last.

JUBILEE TREAT TO SCHOOL CHILDREN. – On the kind invitation of Mr and Mrs Middlemore, Westness House, the children from the three schools had a gala day on Tuesday, 22nd June. Having been driven to Westness House in carts, they were met at the gate by their host and hostess, who presented each girl with a Jubilee brooch and each boy a medal. After being plentifully regaled with the good things provided for them, they were marched to a field adjoining, where games were engaged in for about two hours. In the meantime the teachers were taken into the big house where they had cake and wine. Thereafter, the children were all assembled on the lawn in front of the house, where they all joined in singing “God Save the Queen.” Three cheers having been given for Her Majesty, and three cheers at the call of the teachers, for Mr and Mrs Middlemore for their great kindness, the children made for home, each being presented with a bag of fruit as they were leaving the grounds.
[This was in celebration of Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee.]

1897 July 14 Orkney Herald


THE Crofters Commission held a sitting in Kirkwall on Saturday, when a number of applications by crofters on the estate of General Burroughs of Rousay were heard. The applicants had had fair rents fixed by the Commission in 1888, and now applied for revaluation of their holdings. The three Commissioners were present – Sheriff Brand, Mr Hosack, and Mr Macintyre.

Mr Begg, S.S.C., appeared for most of the crofters. Mr Robertson for the proprietors.

The first two cases were applications by Simpson Skethaway and John Gibson, both of Knarston, Sourin, Rousay, for revaluation. In 1888 these crofters applied to have fair rents fixed. It was then contended for the proprietor that they were joint tenants of the farm at a rent of £60, and were consequently not crofters; for the applicants it was contended that they were separate tenants, each sitting at a rent of £30, and having separate dwelling-houses and steadings. The Commissioners decided that they were crofters and reduced the rent of each from £30 to £17 16s. The former was then £37 in arrears, of which £25 were cancelled.

Simpson Skethaway, who, being 73 years of age, was represented by John Corsie, Knarston, gave the following particulars as to his holding: – Fair rent, £17 16s, area of whole farm, 38 acres 1 rood 24 poles arable, and 13 acres 3 roods 25 poles outrun, and right to graze on hill common with others. Stock of both tenants – 5 horses, 18 cattle, 8 sheep. Improvements executed prior to date when fair rent was fixed – Reclaimed 15 acres 2 roods, repaired dwelling-house, barn, stable, and byre, at an estimated cost of £20. Improvements executed since date when fair rent was fixed – Two new roofs for pig house, and a new stable (3 stalls). Have put in 48 chains stone drains. The landlord paid for the drains and ditches prior to date when fair rent was fixed.

John Gibson gave area and stock as above. Prior to the date when fair rent was fixed he reclaimed 15 acres or thereby, built byre, stable, and potato house, and repaired dwelling house at a cost of £20. Since fair rent was fixed he had supplied new roof for dwelling-house at a cost of £20; repaired barn roof and stable and put in 48 chains stone drains. The landlord paid for some drains and ditches prior to date when fair rent was fixed. Applicant complained of being deprived of flags and stones from quarries they had been in the habit of using, and that flags had now to be carted 4 or 5 miles. They could reclaim the outrun if they got stones.

Witness was examined and cross-examined at considerable length by Mr Begg and Mr Robertson. In connection with his and Shethaway’s applications the following letters were read, and witness was examined in regard to the matters referred to in them: –


Messrs Macrae & Robertson to Mr Simpson Skethaway.
Kirkwall, Sept. 6, 1889.

Sir, – General Burroughs has instructed us to intimate to you that immediate proceedings will be taken against you in the Sheriff Court if you again attempt to quarry stones on his property, and that he holds you liable for the price of the stones you have already quarried. – Your obedient servants, MACRAE & ROBERTSON.


Messrs Macrae & Robertson, Solicitors. Kirkwall, to Mr John Gibson.
Masonic Buildings, Kirkwall, 8th Jan. 1890.

Sir, – General Burroughs has instructed me to intimate to you that in future you will not be allowed to graze your cattle beyond the boundaries of your croft without paying grazing rent. Please intimate to us if you wish to rent any grazing on Knitchen hill, and, if so, for how many cattle. If after this intimation you continue to graze your beasts beyond your croft, proceedings will be taken to interdict you. – Yours obediently, MACRAE & ROBERTSON.


Mr Gibson to General Burroughs.
Knarston, Sourin, Rousay, 16th May 1891.

Dear Sir, – As my house is in very bad condition – there are three couples broken in it – I would ask your honour to allow me to take a few stones to repair it with, as it is not inhabitable in the present condition. I would feel obliged if I could get an answer at your earliest convenience. I need to have it done in the summer season. – I remain, your obedient servant, JOHN GIBSON.


Mr D. J. Robertson to Mr John Gibson.
Kirkwall, 20th May 1891.

Dear Sir, – General Burroughs has sent to me your letter of the 16th inst., which he received on the 18th inst. He desires me to write you that after your treatment of him before the Crofters Commission in repudiating your signature to an agreement under which you had been holding the farm of Knarston as a joint-tenant with Simpson Skethaway for eleven years previous to the sitting of the Commission in Kirkwall, he declines to permit you to take stones from his property or to provide you with anything else. – Yours truly, DUNCAN J. ROBERTSON.


Mr Robertson to Mr Gibson.
Kirkwall, 30th May, 1892.

Dear Sir, – I have seen General Burroughs with regard to your request to be allowed to drain a field on your farm. He instructed me to intimate to you that he will not consent to your doing so. – Yours truly, DUNCAN J. ROBERTSON.


Mr D. J. Robertson, Solicitor, to Mr S. Skethaway.
Kirkwall, 7th Sept., 1893.

Dear Sir, – General Burroughs has instructed me to request you to desist from paring the surface of your farm, to avoid the necessity of his interdicting you. – Yours truly, DUNCAN J. ROBERTSON.


The application of John Marwick, Midgarth, Sourin, was withdrawn.

Craigie Marwick, Breck, Sourin, applied for revaluation of holding. Area in Blue Book, 16 acres arable, 9 outrun; in application, 16 acres, 1 rood, 22 poles arable; 9 acres, 3 roods, 25 poles outrun. There was no entry as to common pasture. Old rent, £15; fair rent fixed in 1888, £10; arrears, £7, all of which were cancelled.

Mr ROBERTSON said the landlord’s acreage differed from that given in by the applicant. They made it 20.766 acres arable, and 3.236 outrun.

Applicant said his stock consisted of 2 horses, 2 milk cows, 1 two-year-old quey in calf, 1 one-year-old, and 2 calves; no sheep. He had lifted old drains and put in 40 or 50 chains of new drains, and trenched a quarter of an acre, which was now under cultivation, since the fair rent was fixed. It was mostly done by his own labour, and he could not say what it cost. The buildings were all thatched-roofed, and the same as in 1888. They are getting out of repair, but he could not repair them as he could not get stones. His uncle reclaimed 8 acres, and witness himself reclaimed 2 acres before 1888. Rent in 1852 was £6; it was then raised to £9, in 1871 to £11, and in 1879 to £15.

Examined by Mr BEGG – Since the last application he had repaired the roof, with old flag stones that were about the house. He lifted the old drains and used the stones against. His loss through being deprived of stones would be £1 a year. The buildings required repairs now. He had made no arrangement for getting stones, and unless he went to Mr Sinclair, Newhouse, or Mr Gibson, Hullion, who were proprietors, he did not know where he would get them. The byre was coming down, and the walls shoving out. He had been in the habit of taking stones from quarries on General Burroughs’ estate without asking leave, unless it was to build new houses. Neither Mr Scarth nor Mr Macrae, who were factors, objected. He had made a piece of private road leading to the public road at his own expense. The farm of Bigland used that road, alleging a right-of-way across there to the shore. They did nothing to keep it up. The price of stock is on an average £3 a head less since the fair rent was fixed.

By Mr ROBERTSON – His stock was much the same as in 1888. It was not more, and he did not get so good prices as then. He had no common grazing. He was about 2 miles from the hill grazing, and sent none of his stock to the hill, but fed them entirely on his own croft. He measured the road roughly by pacing. The road he referred to was there, and was used by Bigland before he came to the croft. The people at Bigland stopped using it for twenty years. Witness did what was required to keep the road up. This year he filled up some holes, but could not say if these repairs would be worth a day’s work. He lodged this application because the rent was too high, and not because he got a circular from Mr Begg stating that if he did not apply the landlord might raise the rent. He got a circular from Mr Begg stating that the time was up for which the rent was fixed, and offering to act for him, but it said nothing about raising the rent.

Mr ROBERTSON said he had seen the circular, and suggested that Mr Begg should purchase a copy.

Mr BEGG did not think the circular had anything to do with the case, but would be quite willing to produce a copy if asked by the Court.

The application of William Craigie, Cruar, was withdrawn.

Margaret Clouston Leonard, Triblo, was represented by her son-in-law, John Craigie. Area in blue-book, 7 acres arable, 12 acres outrun, with grazing rights on adjoining hill pasture. Area in application, 7 acres arable and 7 outrun; no entry as to common pasture.

In reply to Mr BEGG, witness said he did not think there were over 4 acres outrun, but it had never been measured. The tenant in 1888 was George Leonard, whose widow was the present applicant. The old rent was £6; fair rent, £4; arrears, £4; all cancelled. Stock – 1 cow, 1 stot, 1 calf, 4 sheep, and 3 lambs. Except the sheep, for which he rented grazing from David Wood, Trumland, the stock was fed on the croft, or on Knitchin Hill, where he shared hill grazing with five or six neighbours. Some who were not crofters had also a right to pasture on the hill. All the houses were erected by applicant’s predecessors, witness thought by George Leonard. Nothing had been reclaimed since the fair rent was fixed, and witness did not know what was reclaimed before that, but referred to George Leonard’s evidence in his application in 1888. Leonard died in 1895. Witness presently lived with his mother-in-law in order to assist her in working the place, and he sometimes worked for others. They roofed all the buildings last year – dwelling-house, barn, and byre – getting the flags for the purpose from Mr Gibson, Hullion. He asked Mr Robertson for them, but Mr Robertson said no stones were granted to crofters. Mr Robertson specified crofters.

Mr ROBERTSON said it was not denied the crofters were refused stones. Mr Robertson asked the Commissioners to define the boundaries of the hill grazing used by this applicant and others.

Sheriff BRAND pointed out the difficulty of defining a boundary which would be binding on the crofters and not on the other tenants who presently used the same grazing.

John Inkster, Little Cogar, applied for revaluation. Area, 1 acre 3 roods arable, 7 acres 10 roods outrun. Old rent, £3 5s; fair rent, £2 5s; arrears in 1888, £2 11s 7d, all cancelled. Stock at present, 1 cow and 1 pig. He was still a fisherman and School Board officer. As School Board officer he got £5 for the five schools in the whole parish of Rousay, Egilshay, and Veira. He had reclaimed nearly half an acre since the fair rent was fixed and had trenched it with pick and spade.

Examined by Mr BEGG – The ground was heather, and shingle, and stones, and the arable land had been taken out of that. It would grow scarcely anything. The houses needed repairs, but he did not see where he was to get the stones, as he could not get them from the proprietor. He had written Messrs Macrae & Robertson asking for stones, and offering to pay a little for them, and got a reply refusing flags and lime, and saying he could harl the house and use the flags he had. Applicant understood from the estate regulations, of which he produced a copy, that tenants paying under £10 were only bound to white-wash when they got lime from the proprietor. He understood all the tenants got copies of the estate regulations when he got his, shortly after 1888.

Mr ROBERTSON said that as many of the tenants had stated before the Commissioners in 1888 that they were unacquainted with the estate regulations, these had been reprinted, and copies sent to all of them.

By Mr ROBERTSON – With reference to the letter to Messrs Macrae & Robertson, applicant only asked slates, not lime, but both were refused. He could not explain why he was refused what he had not asked for. The dwelling-house required repairs. He had put wood in one end to prevent the water from coming down, and had re-roofed part of one side with the flags he had.

By the COURT – His family were in service. One daughter, aged 26, had been home for six weeks.

Mr BEGG intimated the withdrawal of the application by James Alexander, Cairn.

Alexander Corsie, Cruseday, Frotoft, applied for revaluation. Mr BEGG stated that applicant, who was an old man of 79, was not able to be present, and asked to be allowed to make a statement for him.

Mr ROBERTSON suggested the applicant’s son should be called, but he was not in Court, and though the case was adjourned for a time, did not appear.

Applicants’ area was given in the Blue Book at 4 acres arable, 7 outrun, no common grazing ; in application at 3 acres 3 roods 15 poles arable, and 7 acres 3 roods 37 poles pasture; while the landlord’s agent gave it at 4.676 acres arable and 7.964 acres outrun. The old rent was £8; fair rent, £3; the arrears in 1888 were £7 10s, of which £4 10s were cancelled.

Mr BEGG said applicant’s stock consisted of 2 cows and 1 calf. Applicant had been 36 years in the place, and his mother had been tenant before him. They put up all the buildings at a cost of £35. The rent was raised in 1872 from £3 to £5.

Mr ROBERTSON said applicant was a joiner and church officer in the U.P. Church.

James Gibson, Curquoy and Brittany, aged 73, was represented by his son, William, aged 36. The Court found it impossible to adjust the acreage of this croft, which was given in the Blue Book for 1888 at 30 acres arable and 111 outrun, with grazing rights on the hill pasture; and in the application as – Curquoy, 15 acres 2 roods 12 poles outrun; and Brittany, 15 acres 12 poles arable, and 99 acres 1 rood 26 poles outrun, a total of 30 acres 2 roods 18 poles arable, and 111 acres 28 poles outrun; while the proprietor gave it as 40.594 acres arable, and 90.770 acres outrun, with grazing on 220 acres. It was ultimately agreed that the ground officer and Mr Gibson should go over the boundaries together on Monday, and if possible agree as to what the boundaries were, and be prepared to point them out to the Commissioners when they inspected the holding. Old rent, £17; fair rent, £18 10s; arrears in 1888, £8 10s, all of which was ordered to be paid in two instalments. Stock, at present, 2 horses, 3 cows, 1 heifer, 3 calves, 10 sheep, 12 lambs. They used grazing, for which they paid Mr Wood, Trumland, for some of their stock.

Mr LOW, solicitor, who appeared for applicant, said the proprietor made the application in 1888, and it was served just the day before the crofter had to come to town, and he had no opportunity of testing it. The area stated was the proprietor’s. The principal difference was in Brittany, the area of which was given at 25 acres arable.

Examined by Mr LOW, witness said they had grazing on the Green of Kugro. It was about 40 acres in extent, not 220. They have been deprived of the use of the south side of Kierfea. His father denied that he had got anything from the landlord for improvements. It was stated in 1888 that the landlord had paid £19 in 1857 and 1863; but his father denied that he had ever got a penny. Since 1888, applicant had roofed the barn and stable, and put in 15 chains of drains. All the buildings needed repairs. They had not met with the difficulty of getting stones. As one man’s shipwreck was another man’s landmark, they had thought it useless to apply to the landlord. Witness’s father had got a letter from the landlord’s agent about the repair of roads, and had sent it back because he thought it out of place. They would have to go 7 miles to get stones from another landlord, or go to the island of Westray for them. Stones were needed now. The house at Brittany was let by the landlord to another party with a large garden of half-an-acre, and that was measured in applicant’s holding. He did not know the rent.

Mr ROBERTSON – Five shillings.

The Court then adjourned.

1897 July 21 Orkney Herald

ANGLING INCIDENT. – Most anglers have had the delightful experience of hooking and landing two nice trout off the same cast; some anglers have told stories – doubtless true stories – of their having landed three at a time. We cannot recall having seen it done, but the feat is by no means impossible. So far, we have been contented with two at a time – or one. We rather think we would demur to landing anything less than one, say half a trout. Two gentlemen who were fishing [Rousay’s] Wasbister Loch, in Orkney, on the 2nd inst., had the peculiar experience of catching one fish with their two separate hooks, and no foul hooking either. One of them (Mr Thomas Middlemore) [of Westness House, and Eynhallow] tells the story in The Field, and as his companion angler was Sheriff Armour we may safely pass on to the particulars. They were fishing from a boat – the best of all ways of fishing! – and a one-pound trout took the Sheriff’s Zulu, and Mr Middlemore’s coch-y-bondhu in the same rise. There was no consequent entanglement of hooks or casts – beyond a doubt these gentleman can fish – and when the one-pounder was brought into the boat, both hooks were found in the mouth, the Zulu in the tongue, and the coch-y-bondhu in the palate. The correspondent does not say so, but we presume the fish was divided with judicial niceness.

1897 August 4 Orkney Herald


…..In the fair rent application by Simpson Skethaway, Sourin, Rousay, the following order has been issued: –

…..The Commissioners having heard parties and considered the evidence adduced, find it was complained on behalf of the applicant at the hearing that he had been prevented by the respondent from quarrying stones on the estate of Rousay for the reasonable purposes of his holding, and had been obliged to obtain stones from other persons possessing land in the island at great inconvenience. Find it was admitted by the solicitor who appeared at the hearing for the respondent, that the respondent had issued such a prohibition. Further find it stated in the letter written on the respondent’s behalf, dated 6th Sept. 1889, produced and marked a 925 [sic] that “immediate proceedings will be taken against you (the applicant) in the Sheriff Court if you again attempt to quarry stones on his property, and that he holds you liable for the price of the stones you have already quarried.” Before further answer in the present proceedings, ordain the respondent to lodge a minute, and that within fourteen days from this date, stating whether he is now willing and consents to allow the applicant to obtain stones on his said estate at Rousay for the reasonable purposes of his holding, but subject always to proper regulations for the taking of the same. – (Signed) – DAVID BRAND, W. HOSAK, P. B. MACINTYRE.

Similar orders have been issued in the applications by the following Rousay crofters: – Margaret C. Leonard, Treblo, Sourin; Craigie Marwick, Breck; Alex. Corsie, Cruseday; James Gibson, Curquoy; John Gibson, Knarston; John Inkster, Little Cogar, Wasbister. – Agents for the applicants, Mr Begg and Mr Low; for the proprietor, Mr D. J. Robertson…..

1897 August 11 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – FROTOFT PUBLIC SCHOOL. – On Friday, Mr Corsie, London [house above Hullion], visited this school, and after shortly addressing the children on the memorable event of the year and complimenting the children on their success at last examination, presented each child with a pretty Diamond Jubilee medal. Two pupils at this school – Anna Craigie and Anna Reid – have gained bursaries of £2 each at the recent Orkney and Zetland examination.

1897 August 25 Orkney Herald

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL F. W. TRAILL BURROUGHS, C.B., has been selected for the colonelcy of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (formerly the 6th Foot), which is vacant by the death of General Frazer. The regiment has a distinguished record, and bears on its colours the names of the following battles and campaigns in which it took part: – Roleia, Vimiera, Corunna, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthes, Peninsula, Niagara, South Africa, 1846-7, 1851.2.3. Commenting on this appointment and that of General Alastair Macdonald to the colonelcy of the Gordon Highlanders, the Broad Arrow says: – Another distinguished Highland officer, General Traill Burroughs, in his day one of the bravest of the brave, has also secured a well-earned honorary colonelcy. Readers of the late Surgeon-General Munro’s memoirs and of the stirring tales told by another ex.93rd man, Mr Forbes Mitchell, will find ample testimony to the gallantry and fearlessness of the young Captain Burroughs of 1857-58.

1897 August 25 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY BOAT CLUB REGATTA. – The annual regatta of the above club took place in Veira Sound on Friday last. The wind blew very strong from the south-east in the early morning and forenoon, and, with the flood tide in Egilshay Sound, made a very heavy sea. Notwithstanding the disagreeableness of the weather three of the Kirkwall yachts arrived in good time. The Myrta was the first to arrive, and a little later the Walrus and Chiquita hove in sight. Sheriff Armour’s yacht, the Freya, with a party on board, arrived as the first race was starting and came to anchor off Trumland Pier, and with her display of bunting helped to enliven the scene. The course was round a boat off Sourin, thence round a boat at the east end of Veira, inside a boat off Trumland Pier and round a boat at the west end of Veira. The first race was for the ladies’ cup, open to boats 35ft. waterline and under. There were three entries for this race, the Myrta, Chiquita, and Annie. It was a great disappointment that more of the yachts did not turn up for this race, but no doubt the bad day was the means of keeping them back. The start in this race was a flying one, and all three boats came on the line almost as soon as the starting gun was fired. The Myrta took the Iead from the first and maintained it throughout the whole race. It was the general opinion that she wouldn’t do very much in the heavy sea that was running in Egilshay Sound, but when sighted round the point of Avelshay, tacking up towards the boat at the east end of Veira, she was seen to behave splendidly in the broken water, sticking up to single-reefed canvas quite as well as the Annie and Chiquita did to double reefs and, if any, gained more than she did in the smooth water in Veira Sound. The Annie led second in the race, followed closely by the Chiquita, but unfortunately when tacking up Egilshay Sound the second time she carried away one of her rigging bolts and so damaged her side that she had to retire and was unable to compete again. The finish was as follows: –

Corrected Time.
Myrta – 2h. 41m. 18s.
Chiquita – 2h. 52m. 53s.
Annie – (retired.)

In the medal race, open to boats 22 feet waterline and under, the course was the same as for the cup race, but only twice round instead of three times. There were three entries – the Walrus, Sweyn, and Sigurd. In the race the start was also a flying one, and all three boats got well off together, the Walrus taking the lead, followed closely by the Sweyn and Sigurd. The Sigurd retired after running down for Avelshay point, leaving the Walrus and Sweyn to finish the race. The Walrus maintained her lead throughout and always improved her position on the Sweyn. The following is the finish after deducting time allowance: –

Walrus – 1h. 50m. 6s.
Sweyn – 1h. 56m. 34s.

Owing to the roughness of the day there were no entries for the 16ft. race, which was a great draw-back to the regatta as a good many boats always used to enter for this race.

In the all-comers’ race there were three entries – the Myrta, WaIrus, and Sweyn – the course being the same as in the previous races, once round. The Myrta was again an easy first, leaving the Walrus and Sweyn to compete for second place. The Walrus again beat the Sweyn, and the finish was as follows, with time allowance deducted: –

Myrta – 0h. 59m. 48s.
Walrus – 1h.   7m. 52s.
Sweyn – 1h. 13m. 37s.

The following are the rowing races: –

BOYS’ ROWING RACE. – 1, J. Munro and W. Leonard, 2, J. Craigie and F. Cooper, 3, Jas. Sinclair and W. Thomson.

LADIES ROWING RACE. – 1, Misses Pirie and Gibson, 2, Misses Miller and Grieve.

MEN’S ROWING RACE. – 1, John Clouston and John Gibson, 2, A. Wilson and Wm. Smith, 3, Alex. Johnstone and John Mowat.

The club again supplied refreshments to the spectators throughout the day, and great credit is due to the ladies who presided in the tea-room for the able and efficient way in which they carried out all the arrangements. At the close Mrs Burroughs, Trumland House, handed out the prizes to the successful competitors, and was accorded three hearty cheers. Three hearty cheers were also given for General Burroughs, commodore of the club, also for Mr Middlemore, vice-commodore, and all those who had helped to make the regatta a success. The committee take this opportunity of thanking all those who so liberally contributed towards the funds of the club.

1897 September 8 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY – SCHOOL TREAT. – General and Mrs Burroughs, along with a party from Trumland House, visited the Wasbister Public School, on the afternoon of Wednesday, the 1st inst., and gave the children a treat. After the scholars had sung a few verses from various songs, each child came forward in succession to receive his or her treat from Mrs Burroughs. Hearty cheers were then accorded General and Mrs Burroughs for their kindness, after which General Burroughs thanked the children for the same; and congratulated the teachers and pupils on the successful work of the past year. The children were thereafter dismissed.

1897 September 15 Orkney Herald


The following are H.M. Inspector’s reports on the undernoted [Rousay] schools: –

SOURIN PUBLIC SCHOOL. – The school was recently closed for a number of weeks owing to the prevalence of an epidemic in the district, and the attendance of the older scholars is irregular. The general efficiency has in consequence suffered although the present teacher [John Carrill] has been working faithfully and in some respects successfully. Composition and arithmetic are the subjects which appear to the most advantage. Sum-setting is creditable and spelling and handwriting in the third and fourth standards are fairly good. Reading, however, throughout the school is very often so low in tone and so indistinctly enunciated that it is practically inaudible. In the highest class where the children show rather better enunciation the reading is marred by monotony and defective phrasing. Repetition shows the same faults as reading, and both reading and poetry lessons are but vaguely understood by the pupils. The answering in grammar is at its best in the fourth; in most of the other classes the teaching of this subject is on somewhat narrow lines. In geography the third made a good appearance; in the rest of the school the work in this subject was rather inferior. Singing is somewhat feeble but the testing exercises gave satisfactory results. Drill is steadily and smartly done. Needlework again deserves special mention and praise. The painstaking way in which this subject is prepared for examination is creditable to the teacher. The arrangements for cleansing the schoolroom appear to be inadequate and ventilation is defective. The nearness of the offices to the school building makes it absolutely necessary that they should be kept scrupulously clean. My lords will expect an unqualified report on the state of the offices if the higher grant for organisation and discipline is to be allowed in future. The pass in Latin of the scholar numbered 1 on the examination schedule is disallowed under article 21 (e). No Payment can be made under article 19 E for H. Marwick as he is not required by article 32 (c) 1. Average attendance, 47. Grant earned (inclusive of £10 under article 19 D), £60 8s.

WASBISTER PUBLIC SCHOOL. – The school has been open only 331 times in the course of the year, and above the third standard there are only three scholars whose attendances reach 80 per cent. of that number. In such circumstances no school could reach a high level of efficiency, and it says much for the zeal and ability of the teacher [John Peace] that his scholars have done so much good work and made such a creditable appearance at the examination. In arithmetic the results are specially gratifying, but traces of faulty method are occasionally to be met with. Reading is fluent, and the lessons are well understood, but the finer qualities of expression and emphasis are still lacking. Defects of sentence construction are pretty common in the composition exercises. Much of the writing is commendable. In the second standard slatewriting is too small and wanting in roundness and firmness. The instruction in class subjects has been attended with a fair measure of success more especially in the second standard and the highest class. Needlework is very good. Singing and drill are satisfactory. My lords had difficulty in allowing the higher grant on average attendance as it appeared that Robert Pearson had been removed from the register before completing the statutory age. Average attendance 27. Grant earned (inclusive of £15 under article 19 D), £45 8s.

FROTOFT PUBLIC SCHOOL. – The circumstances of the year have been far from favourable, but under Mrs [Kate] Hadden’s charge the school has made marked progress, and is now in a very satisfactory state of efficiency. The improvement is perhaps best seen in the teaching of the class subjects, the children showing very creditable readiness and intelligence in all the oral examinations. The written work is of very good quality. The writing itself is very neat and careful, but there is an occasional tendency to write with a backward slope. Arithmetic is well done throughout, and in the third standard a high degree of accuracy has been reached. Singing is sweet and tuneful, and musical drill is practised with distinct success. Needlework is well entitled to a hearty word of praise. The general tone of the school is excellent. Average attendance,18. Grant earned (inclusive of £15 under article 19 D), £37 3s 6d.

1897 September 29 Orkney Herald

We have received from Mr W. Inkster, fire-master of the City of Aberdeen Fire Brigade, [‘Fiery Bill’ of Cogar, Wasbister] his report for the year ending 31st May 1897. Not only does the report give the number of fires that took place and their causes, the number of times that the brigade was called out, and various particulars regarding the brigade, but it gives some rather curious and interesting information. There were 126 actual fires during the year, causing damage to the amount of £11,929, the value of property at risk being estimated at £690,336; and the quantity of water used in extinguishing files in the city alone was about 4,125,260 gallons, or about 18,416 tons.

1897 October 6 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY. – The Harvest has so far progressed very favourably. The crops are all cut and a good deal already in the stack yard, but the weather, having lately changed for the worse, the work has been delayed somewhat.

On Saturday evening, while a boat was coming under sail from the island of Eynhallow to Rousay, another boat with four pleasure seekers on board was fallen in with and taken under tow. In attempting to stay the first boat was unable to come round owing to the weight of the boat in tow, and capsized, throwing one of its two occupants into the water, the other escaping a ducking by jumping into the other boat.

1897 November 3 Orkney Herald

PICTORIAL PHOTOGRAPHY. – In the photographic supplement to the Bazaar of last Wednesday, we notice that Mr Thomas Kent, Albert Square, Kirkwall, receives the merit certificate for a figure study, entitled “A Shy Model,” sent in to a photographic competition conducted by the above journal. A reproduction is given of the picture, which forms one of a series submitted by this competitor, and regarding which the editor sums up his criticism in the following words: – “Taken as a whole your work is very good and reaches a level of excellence which is maintained throughout all five prints.”

[Tom Kent was one of Orkney’s most famous photographers. He was born on the island of Eday in 1863 but the family moved to the Parish of Firth on the Orkney Mainland soon after. It was after emigrating to America and becoming a student of renowned Chicago photographer M.J. Steffens that Tom learned the skills that allowed him to set up shop as a photographer on his return to Orkney. More than just a recorder of events he had an eye for composition as well as a seemingly unerring ability to be in the right place at the right time. He used the most sophisticated equipment available at the time, but that would still mean having to carry around a large heavy wooden camera and a quantity of glass plates, no mean feat in itself. The quality of Tom Kent’s photographs was recognised outside Orkney and he contributed regularly to professional magazines as well as pictorial publications such as Country Life. Sadly Tom seems to have fallen on hard times in later life and when he died, on 11th August 1936, his passing went almost unnoticed, a sad end for a man who had played such an important part in documenting life in Orkney. [Orkney Library & Archive.]

[Tom visited Rousay with his camera equipment, and lowered it and himself by rope into the Sinians of Cutclaws to capture that classic image of Scabra Head, framed in the dark and foreboding entrance to that collapsed cave.]

1897 November 17 Orkney Herald

ROUSAY. – There has been collected in Rousay and Veira, and handed to the Chairman of the Orkney Association for the Education of the Blind, the sum of £4 15s 8d. The collectors were – Miss Mainland, Veira; Miss Pirie, Trumland; Miss Jessie Reid, Sourin; Miss M. Logie, Frotoft; and Miss Seatter, Wasbister.

1897 December 1 Orkney Herald

OWNERS of fishing boats are reminded that their fishing certificates must be endorsed each year whether their boats have been used or not. For this purpose they should be handed in at the Custom House [in Kirkwall] before the 31st inst. The penalty for neglect is £20.

1897 December 15 Orkney Herald


The Commissioners are now in course of issuing orders in a number of applications for revaluations of holdings and otherwise which have formed the subject of inquiry in various parts of the crofting area during the last few months. Among the most important of these were probably the applications from the island of Rousay, which is for the most part the property of General Burroughs. During the hearing of these applications the applicants complained to the Commission that they had been absolutely debarred by the proprietor from taking stones on their own holdings or from any part of the estate for ordinary building and repairing purposes, and also from cutting or quarrying stones on their holdings in order to the formation of drains or water channels, with the view to the permanent improvement of their holdings. Full inquiry was made into this matter, and thereafter the Commissioners issued an interim order calling upon the proprietor to state whether he would consent to their getting the stones they needed and carrying through operations for the above purposes. The landlord’s reply to this order was an absolute refusal to accede to the tenants’ desires. In the end the Commissioners have issued an order dealing with the complaints made. The landlord’s minute and the order of the Commissioners are in the following terms: –

Kirkwall, 9th August 1897.


Minute for the respondent in application by Simpson Skethaway,
Knarston, Sourin, Rousay, to fix a fair rent.

The respondent is not willing, nor will he consent, to allow the applicant to obtain stones on the estate of Rousay and Viera for any purpose whatsoever. He refuses this consent as a protest against what he considers to be the arbitrary and unjust decrees of the Crofters Commissioners in the applications by the tenants of the farm of Knarston, and by other crofting tenants on his estate, dealt with by them in their former visits to the county of Orkney, against which decrees he has no power to appeal. The respondent further takes this opportunity to protest against the injustice of any Commission depriving loyal and law-abiding subjects of the Crown of their property, and handing it over to others who have no right to it without allowing these from whom it is taken due compensation. Land in the Orkney Islands, as elsewhere in Scotland, has, under the laws of our country, been freely bought and sold for hundreds of years, and under the protection of these laws much money has been laid out in its improvement which otherwise would not have been so expended. The respondent has done all in his power towards the improvement of the estate to which he succeeded in the county of Orkney, and for the welfare of all on it. For some forty years previous to and up to the passing of the Crofters Holdings (Scotland) Act in 1886, some £40,000 were expended in Rousay and Veira on estate improvements, in road-making, in the building of a pier, and of houses and steadings, in draining and enclosing, &c. By the action of the Crofters Commissioners the respondent now finds himself deprived of all return for his outlay. As long as his property was his own the respondent permitted his tenants and “crofters” to take stones and roofing flags from his quarries. Since he has been unrighteously deprived of his property by the Crofters Commissioners, and since it has been handed over by them in perpetuity at merely nominal rents to its present “crofter ” occupants who had hired it from him, and to their heirs, it is unreasonable to expect that he is to continue treating them as if they were his own tenants. The respondent will avail himself of all legal means to regain possession of the property of which he has been unjustly deprived. – (Signed) DUNCAN J. ROBERTSON, Agent for the Landlord.


8th Dec, 1897


The Commissioners, having heard parties and considered the evidence adduced, find that this application has been lodged for the purpose of obtaining revaluation of the applicant’s holding at the close of the first septennial period; find that in the course of the hearing serious complaint was made by the applicant of the difficulty he had in obtaining stones for the reasonable purposes of his holding; find that the respondent is proprietor of the whole island of Rousay, except certain small portions held by the parish minister as glebe lands, and by Mr Sinclair and Mr Gibson respectively; find it stated by the applicant that in order to obtain flags or stones he had to apply to those other proprietors, or to get them from the island of Westray, distant not less than from eight to twelve miles, according to the situation of the various holdings; find that the respondent by letter, dated 6th September, 1889, intimated proceedings through his agents against the applicant if he attempted to quarry stones on the respondent’s property, and that he held him liable for the price of the stones already quarried; find that the Commissioners issued an order herein on 28th July, 1897, ordaining the respondent to lodge a minute stating whether he would then consent to allow the applicant to obtain stones on the estate of Rousay for the said purposes, but subject always to proper regulations for the taking of the same; find that the respondent, in answer to this order, lodged the minute, dated 9th August, 1897, wherein he adhered to his contention that he was right absolutely to refuse stones to the applicant for the said purposes; find that the Act, by section 1 (3), renders the tenant liable to removal from his holding should be persistently injure the same by the dilapidation of buildings, and that by section 1 (4) he is enabled, without the consent of the landlord in writing, to erect a dwelling-house upon his holding in substitution for one already there at the time of the passing of the Act; find that the course taken by the respondent as aforesaid has the effect of hindering or preventing the applicant from duly fulfilling the statutory obligations imposed upon him by the Act, and also of hindering or preventing him from improving his holding, and reconstructing and improving his buildings; find that the difficulty and increased expense experienced by the applicant in obtaining stones for the reasonable purposes of his holding is a matter which the Commissioners are called on to take into consideration in the revaluation of his holding, and of new fixing a fair rent therefore. – (Signed) DAVID BRAND, W. HOSACK, P. B. MACINTIYRE.

Note. – It appears from the evidence that prior to the passing of the Act the respondent made little or no difficulty about allowing the applicant to cut, quarry, or otherwise take stones for all the ordinary purposes of his holding, but in consequence of the Act having been passed, and cases on the respondent’s estate having been dealt with under the same, he has elected to assert his rights as a proprietor in an extreme form, and to refuse the applicant the materials necessary for the permanent improvement, the safe and sanitary occupation of his holding, and for the fulfilment of his obligations in regard thereto under the Act. The position thus taken up by the respondent appears to the Commissioners to be unwarranted and oppressive. By his minute of 9th August, 1897, above referred to the respondent refuses to allow the applicant to obtain “stones for any purpose whatsoever,” and that minute otherwise is in effect an expression of protest against the policy of the Act of 1886. But it does not appear to the Commissioners to be a permissible procedure for the respondent to convert his opposition to the statute into a hostile and unprecedented course of action against the crofting tenants of an island which is almost entirely his own property. The Commissioners are satisfied that the respondent’s refusal to allow stones to be obtained for reasonable and ordinary purposes, and the consequent risk and difficulty involved, are matters which the Commissioners are bound to have in view in revaluing the holding. – (Intd.) D.B., W.H., P.B.M.


8th December, 1897

The Commissioners having considered this application, find and declare that the applicant is a crofter within the meaning of the Act; and having further considered all the circumstances of the case, holding and district, including any permanent or unexhausted improvements on the holding and suitable thereto, executed or paid for by the applicant or his predecessors in the same family, have determined and hereby fix and determine that the fair rent of the holding is the annual sum of sixteen pounds sterling. Find no expenses due to or by either party. – (Signed) DAVID BRAND, W. HOSACK, P. B. MACINTYRE.

Former rent, £17 16s; fair rent, £16.


JOHN INKSTER, Little Cogar, Wasbister, Rousay.
Former rent, £2 5s; fair rent, £2 5s.

8th December, 1897.

The Commissioners having resumed consideration of this application, together with minute for the respondent, hereby refer to the order of even date herewith under similar minutes in the relative applications of Simpson Skethaway, and John Gibson. – (Signed) DAVID BRAND, W. HOSACK, P. B. MACINTYRE.


MARGARET C. LEONARD, Treblo, Rousay.
Former rent, £4 3s; fair rent, £3 5s.


ALEXANDER CORSIE, Cruseday, Rousay.
Former rent, £3; fair rent, £3.


Former rent, £10; fair rent, £9.



8th December 1897.

The Commissioners having heard parties and considered the evidence, find that this application has been presented in order to obtain a revaluation of holding at the close of the first septennial period; find that in the course of the hearing the applicant complained that he had been prevented by the respondent from properly draining or cultivating a certain portion or certain portions thereof; find that in support of the said allegation and complaint the applicant produced a letter dated 30th May 1892, from the respondent’s agent to him, wherein it was stated that with regard to the applicant’s request to be allowed to drain a field on his farm the agents were instructed to intimate to him that the respondent would not consent to the applicant doing so; find it proved on the evidence that the field required to be drained, but that this could not be accomplished unless the applicant got stones from elsewhere than from the estate of Rousay; find on a sound construction of the Act that the applicant is entitled properly to drain any portion of his croft, and, if necessary in so doing, to cut or quarry through rocky strata in order to the due formation of such drain or drains and to obtain a proper depth and fall; find that the applicant has proper depth and fall; find that the applicant has right to use any stones so out or quarried for the construction of such drains; find further that the applicant is entitled, with the view to the permanent improvement of his holding, to remove stones, boulders, and outcropping rocks; find that the respondent refuses, as set forth in the foresaid letter of 30th May 1892, and not departed from at the hearing to consent to the formation and construction of any drain or drains; find that such refusal is a consideration which the Commissioners are entitled to have on view in revaluing the holding and of new fixing a new rent therefore; find no expenses due to or by either party. – (Sgd.) DAVID BRAND, W. HOSACK, P. B. MACINTYRE.

Note. – The Commissioners desire further to refer to the order of even date herewith in the application of Simpson Skethaway, – (Intd.) D.B., W.H., P.B.M.

Former rent, £17 16s ; fair rent, £16.


JAMES GIBSON, Curquoy and Brittany. Rousay.

8th December 1897.

The Commissioners having resumed consideration of this application, together with the minute for the respondent, hereby refer to the order of even date herewith under similar minute in the relative applications of Simpson Skethaway and John Gibson. – (Sgd.) DAVID BRAND, W. HOSACK, P. B. MACINTYRE.


8th December 1897.

The Commissioners having heard parties, find that the fair rent application with which they dealt in 1888 was at the instance of the landlord; find that the applicant by the minute lodged craves that in the event of the areas set forth in the same being ascertained now to be overstated, the amount overpaid by the applicant in respect of such overstatement be fixed, and that the landlord be ordained to repay such amount to the applicant, or otherwise that the applicant be authorised to retain such overpayment from the rent now due or to become due to him; find that the order craved by the said minute is ultra vires [“beyond the powers”] of the Commissioners; therefore refuse to give effect thereto. –  (Signed) DAVID BRAND, W. HOSAK, P. B. MACINTYRE.

Note. – There is no provision in the Act enabling the Commissioners to deal with the point raised in the foresaid minute. The rent fixed in 1888 must be held and deemed a fair rent till the same is altered under and in terms of the Act. – (Intd.) D.B., W.H.,_ P.B.M.

Former rent, £18 15s; fair rent, £18. [Orkney Herald]


ORKNEY ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY. – A meeting of the Orkney Ornithological Society was held last Tuesday evening – Mr W. D. Baikie of Tankerness presiding. The secretary and treasurer submitted their reports, which were considered satisfactory. The following were appointed office-bearers: – President, Mr W. D. Baikie; secretary, Mr T. Brass, Albert Street; treasurer, Mr W. Kirkness, Mrs Jolly and Mrs Merrilees, Harray, Messrs A. MacGregor, Greenfield, and J. Logie, Sunnybank, were added to the Committee; Capt. Laing of Crook and Mr T. Middlemore of Eynhallow, Rousay, were elected honorary members. It was agreed to give a third prize in classes where there were ten entries. It was also resolved to have a silver cup for competition in the canary section. The annual show of the Society is to be held during the month of February.

1897 December 21 The Scotsman


December 18, 1897

SIR, – Being away from home and travelling, I missed seeing until this day the paragraph in the “Scotsman” of the 11th inst., in which the Crofter Commissioners take me to account for refusing to allow the crofters on my estate of Rousay in the Orkney Islands to take stone from my quarries for the improvement of their holdings.

I wonder what Sheriff Brand and his brother Commissioners would do, were they in my place?

I succeeded to this estate some forty-five years ago (I was then a lieutenant in the 93d Sutherland Highlanders.) Its factor, the late Mr. Robert Scarth of Binscarth, one of the best agriculturists and one of the ablest men in the County of Orkney, pointed out to me that much outlay of capital was required to develop its capabilities. I therefore remained in the army, accompanied my regiment in several campaigns, and devoted the greater part of the rental of my estate to its improvement, and to the benefit of all on it. I did not do this out of pure philanthropy, but whilst benefiting my tenants, I hoped I was also making provision for my own old age and for my successors.

I found the estate without roads, with few enclosures, and little drainage; with very inferior houses and steadings, and generally in a very backward state. I set to work to complete the improvements commenced by my grand uncle to whom I had succeeded. There are now some twenty miles of good macadamised roads, some thirty miles of stone-wall enclosures, some ten miles of wire fencing; and many modern houses and steadings have been built. A pier has been built, and regular postal and steam communication has been established, and much money has been laid out on the estate. In fact, I have done all that a proprietor, with my means, could do. Old age has now come upon me, and by the act of a fortuitous majority in Parliament I now find myself deprived of all return for my outlay. I thought I rather merited reward for what I had done, than the punishment I am receiving at the hands of the Crofter Commissioners.

Every tenant on my estate held his land by a lease or a legal agreement, or by “tacit relocation” of such lease or agreement.

When the Crofters’ Holdings (Scotland) Act was passed, and the cry was raised – “The land is the people’s,” many small farmers, now called “crofters,” over-persuaded by agitators, repudiated their agreements, and applied to the Crofter Commissioners for a revaluation of their rents. Sheriff Brand ruled that those who were holding their lands by “tacit relocation” had not leases, and thus came under the Crofter Act, and he commenced upon them his wholesale reductions of rent.

The inhabitants of the Orkney Islands are not Celts, but of Scandinavian, and Lowland Scots extraction. The county is not over-populated. The people are careful and well-to-do. Want as experienced in towns and cities is unknown amongst them. They are very intelligent, and do not require special Acts of Parliament to help them to take care of themselves.

As long as the tenants of Rousay were my tenants, I did all I could for them. Since some have dishonestly repudiated the agreements they made with me, and have placed themselves under the management of Sheriff Brand and his Commission, it is unreasonable that I should be expected to treat them as my other tenants, whilst Sheriff Brand is ever ready to pounce upon me by still further reducing their rents, Would Sheriff Brand or his colleagues, in my place, act otherwise? I do not think they would.

The small farmers, now called “crofters,” in the Orkney Islands are by no means in indignant circumstances. The seas surrounding the islands are full of fish. Many of the smallest crofters make £50 and £60 a year by lobster fishing, besides their gains by other fishing. The export of eggs from the county brings into it a sum of money about as large as its total agricultural rental, and this sum also goes principally into the crofters’ pockets.

Of the five indigent crofters on my estate whose rents have just been reduced by the Crofter Commission to the total amount of £8 2s., James Gibson, the tenant of the farm of Curquoy, whose rent has been reduced from £17 16s to £16, when he heard some years ago that I was borrowing money from the Lands Improvement Company for drainage purposes, came to me and said – Why borrow money at 6 to 7 per cent.? I will lend you from £3000 to £4000 at 4 per cent.! So there is no show of indulgence in his case! His son until lately was the largest police constable in London.

John Gibson and Simpson Skethaway, joint-tenants of the farm of Knarston, for which up to the passing of the Crofters Act they paid me £60 a year, have at this their second application to the Commission had their rent reduced to £32. When their case first came before Sheriff Brand seven years ago, he said to them – The rent of this farm is £60. You are both tenants of it, 60 divided by 2 makes 30 (the crofter limit of rent), so you are both crofters – which I cannot but consider as a most unjustifiable interpretation of the Crofter Act.

I took the opinion of counsel on this and on other cases on my estate. Counsel’s opinion was that they were very unjust, but as Parliament had given special powers to the Crofter Commission from which there was no appeal, I had no redress.

Surely no Government has any just right to hand over loyal and law-abiding subjects to be plundered by Parliamentary Commissions as landowners in a so-called “crofter” county are being plundered. We, too, are precluded from submitting our cases to the judgement of the judges of the land, and our reputations, our estates, and our incomes are at the mercy of three casual Commissioners, against whose arbitrary and often unjust decrees no appeal is permitted.

The landowners in the Orkney Islands pay the same taxes as do landowners all over Scotland, and surely we have an equally inalienable right to be governed by the common law of the land, and to be protected from the tyranny of a Parliamentary Commission which, at great public expense, interferes in every way with the management of our estates, tries to manage them for us, and, as might be expected, in its attempts to do so only produces the greatest confusion. – I am, &c. F. TRAILL BURROUGHS.