The Burn of Quoys, which flows all the way down to the Loch of Wasbister

Quoys was a farm in Wasbister, the buildings of which now stand as ruins on the west bank of the Burn of Quoys and situated between the lands of Quoyostray and Cogar.

In 1841, the land was farmed by 35-year-old William Gibson and he was paying £10 a year rent. He lived there with his wife Janet Craigie, daughter of Hugh and Isabel Craigie of Brough, Westside, who was born on July 20th 1808. Living under the same roof was Ellen Craigie, a servant, and 13-year-old Hugh Marwick who was an agricultural labourer. Lerquoy was added in 1847, as was Deithe in 1849 [or Quoydeithe as it was known in those days, and sited some 250 yards east of the smiddy above Quoyostray], and at that time William paid £15 14s. 7d. rent.

In 1851, William and Janet had three servants; John Clouston, a 19-year-old, working on the farm; 22-year-old Jane Craigie, who worked in the house; and 13-year-old Betsy Clouston, a cowherd.

Another tenant at this time was widowed farmer William Marwick, who lived there with his 20-year-old son David, a shoemaker.

Quoys, the Wester loch, Saviskaill Head, and Westray across the firth

By 1861, the previously mentioned Hugh Marwick was joint tenant of Quoys with William Gibson. At this time he was a 33-year-old fisherman. On December 1st 1858, he married Mary Inkster, the daughter of James Inkster and Janet Craigie of Innister, born on December 5th 1834. While living at Quoys they had four children between 1859 and 1866.

They then moved to Whitemeadows, a small croft high up on the west side of Kierfea Hill, and between June 1869 and October 1880, Mary gave birth to another six children there. James Mowat was born on June 3rd 1869, William on July 10th 1871, Thomas on June 23rd 1873, John on November 26th 1875, Alexander on December 10th 1878 and Magnus, who was born on October 14th 1880.

Both Hugh and his wife Mary died in 1882, within a month of each other. He was aged 54 and she was 46. Seven of the ten children were younger than 18 when they were orphaned. The following is the inscription on their gravestone in the Wester kirkyard:-

Erected by their family in loving memory of
Hugh Marwick, who died 22nd March 1882, aged 53 years,
and Mary Inkster his wife, who died 17th April 1882, aged 46 years.
“Weep not for us our children dear:
because we died and left you here:
Our heavenly Father thought it best:
to call us home and give us rest.”


Quoys in the foreground, the Wester schoolhouse to the left, Cogar
and Ivybank in the centre, Nedyar and Langskaill to the right.

In 1871 James Kirkness and his wife Margaret Inkster lived at Quoys. He was the son of James Kirkness and Grace Craigie of Quoyostray and later Grain, and he was born on March 28th 1843. In 1864 he married Margaret, daughter of James Inkster and his third wife Elizabeth Mowat, and she was born on November 17th 1844. They had four children; Janet, James, William, and David, born between 1865 and 1878.

In 1873, William Gibson, who still owned the 58.8 acres of land at Quoys, paid an annual rent of £20.

The 1891 census of Rousay was carried out on April 5th, and at this time head of the household at Quoys was 23-year-old John Gibson, son of Alexander Gibson and Margaret Learmonth of Vacquoy. It was Alexander who designed and built the Wasbister school, which opened in 1881. He passed away in 1887, and it was then his wife, son john and three of his five daughters moved to Quoys.

Quoys, with Furse above left, and Sketquoy on the highest ground

The next occupants of Quoys were the Marwick family. David Marwick, son of Robert Marwick and Bell Mainland, his wife Ann Leonard, daughter of George Leonard and Margaret Clouston, and their seven children moved there from Essaquoy, Sourin. Robert was the oldest, born in February 1877; George was born in January 1880; Bella in January 1882; Mary Ann in September 1886; David Baike, was born in November 1890; William Leslie, in May 1895; and John Houston, who was born in April 1897.

Robert Marwick, born in 1877, married Jessie Dearness and had five children; David, Jessie Ann, Christina, Annie, and Ruby. His brother George was unmarried, and the youngest brother, John, was killed in action during WWI. Private 138391 John Houston Marwick served with the 58th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), and fell on September 18th 1918 during the Battle of Épehy, fought between the British Fourth Army and enemy outpost positions in front of the Hindenburg Line, Germany’s last line of defence on the Western Front during World War I. John Houston Marwick is commemorated on Panel 10, Vis-en-Artois Memorial, between the communes of Vis-en-Artois and Haucourt in the département of Pas-de-Calais, France.

The three Marwick brothers mentioned above: Robert [left], George, and John [right]

These photos are from the Tommy Gibson collection