Scar, Gue, & Brigsend

Scar was the name of two farm servant’s cottages high up on the hill above Westness. In 1851, Scar 1 was occupied by 77-year-old agricultural labourer Drummond Louttit, his wife Betsy Flaws, who was 74 years of age, and their 35-year-old daughter Isabella. Their son John and his family lived at Scar 2. Born on December 21st 1818, John, who was also an agricultural labourer, married Jane Wilson of Orphir and between 1845 and 1866 they had thirteen children. The family later moved to Redlums, north of Knarston.

In 1871, Scaur, as it was spelt in the census of that year, housed the Inkster family. James Inkster was a 41-year-old day labourer and he lived there with his wife Jane and their five young children. James was the son of James Inkster of Gorn and Jane, daughter of Thomas Inkster of Innister and his second wife Janet Craigie. They had six children, James, Jean, Margaret, Ann, John, and Samuel, born between 1863 and 1876.

51-year-old dairymaid Rebecca Marwick also lived at Scaur at this time – as did 58-year-old Isabella Louttit and her 48-year-old sister Margaret. They were the daughters of Drummond Louttit and Betsy Flaws, both unmarried and employed as knitters. The census of 1881 records the fact that they were both blind paupers.

Gue was the collective name applied to four cottages ‘situate at 5 chains E of Bridgend, built of stone, thatched, one storey, and in poor repair’ according to the Ordnance Survey Name Books Volume 16, dated 1879-1880.

An old rental dated 1737 names William Couper as a resident in one of the dwellings. In 1840 Betty Logie lived in Gue 1 [she went to Woo, Sourin] and the others were occupied by farm servants.

The census of 1841 tells of 30-year-old John Yorston, a ‘male servant’, 25-year-old Barbara Johnston, Margaret Flaws aged 65 years, and one-year-old John Flaws living at Gue 1.

Gue 2 was occupied by 50-year-old mason Alexander Gibson and his family. Alexander married Janet Marwick of Furse in 1822 and they went on to have six children. Betty, born in June 1823, and John Inkster, was born in March 1825 when they were living at Stenisgorn in Wasbister. The family had moved to nearby Bucket when Janet was born in June 1827, and Mary Sarle, who was born in May 1830. David was born in October 1832 at Hulterburn [Kirkgate], and finally James was born August 1838 when the family were living at Pow on the Westside. By the time of the 1851 census Betty earned a living as a dressmaker, and John was a cobbler.

Other occupants of Gue at that time were 50-year-old widow Mary Logie. She was the daughter of Drummond and Isobel Craigie of Whome, Westside. She married John Logie of Gue in 1822 and they had eight children between March 1823 and September 1833.

When the 1861 census was carried out on April 8th there were families occupying all four cottages at Gue. They included Cecilia Craigie, a 39-year-old dairymaid and her 81-year-old widowed mother Barbara; James Gibson, a 23-year-old ploughman, his wife Margaret, who was a nurse, and their 8-month-old daughter Margaret; agricultural labourer Alexander Johnston and his wife Isabella; and 26-year-old shepherd Robert Logie and his wife Mary Murray, and their children Robert (3), and Mary (12 months).

Ten years later seventy-nine-year-old widowed pauper Mary Logie lived in one of the cottages with her 48-year-old unmarried daughter Betsy, and her 18-year-old son William, who was classed as a ‘lunatic’. 27-year-old farm servant William Scollay from Westray occupied another; as did Hugh Marwick, his wife Jemima McGillvary from Egilsay. She was the daughter of James McGillvary and Eleanor Costie of Upper Cornquoy. Hugh and Jemima had four children, Alexander, Lizzie Burroughs, Ann Mowat, and Hugh.

In 1881 all four cottages were occupied. The families included John Mowat, a 28-year-old ploughman from Evie, his wife Mary, and children, Mary, John and Jessie, and Betsy Logie and her son William. 22-year old ploughman John Craigie and his family also lived in one of the cottages at Gue. John was the son of fisherman John Craigie of Shalter in Wasbister and Betsy Louttit of Blackhammer. Young John married Betsy Leonard of Treblo in 1878 and they went on to have ten children between 1879 and 1900. John was the miller at Sourin Mill for a number of years and it was in the early 1930s when he and his daughters Isabella and Annie ran the Queen’s Hotel in Kirkwall.

John and Betsy Craigie, with sons George and Hugh, and daughter Annie. c1915.
[Photo courtesy of Tommy Gibson]

1891 saw Betsy Logie and son William still at Goe [as it was spelled in the census]. The only other inhabitants were the Inkster family, who had come round from Wester to live at Gue. Hugh Inkster was the son of James and Margaret Inkster of Gorn and he was born on February 25th 1845. He married Georgina Harcus of Westray, the daughter of John Harcus and Barbara Smith, and they were to have nine children born between 1867 and 1889. They originally lived on the fifteen-acre farm of Hammer but it was removed from the Inksters in 1881 and incorporated into Innister to justify the large new steading the laird had built there. The Inksters, who had only been in Hammer for three years, were forced to sell their stock which had been provided by Hugh’s mother when she gave up Gorn. They lived on the proceeds for a year or two, but were then impoverished because Hugh, being in poor health, was unable to work to provided for his large family. [RCM].

In 1911 the only occupant of any of the cottages at Gue was 67-year-old ploughman’s widow Christina Dishan. The previous census tells of James Dishan of Evie and Rendall working the croft of West Craye in Sourin with his wife Christina who was born in Westray.

Brigsend is the name of a cottage above Westness House, at the roadside near where the road crosses the Burn of Westness. In 1851 it was also known as Gatehouse or Brig-a-Fea, and 43-year-old farm grieve James Burns from Haddington, East Lothian, lived here with his daughters Josephine (23) and Margaret (17), both of whom were employed at home, Isabella (15), Williamina (12) and son John (9), who were all scholars.

No further mention of any occupants was made until the census of 1881, when 40-year-old Westness farm manager Peter Learmonth from Islay and his family lived there. With him was his wife, 46-year-old Jane Inkster and children Mary Jane (14), Robert (12), and seven-year-old Frederick.

Ten years on and we find ‘Bridgend’ occupied by 44-year-old farm servant William Sabiston, his 23-year-old nephew Robert Gillespie who was also a farm servant, and his unmarried sisters Mary, a 41-year-old housekeeper, and Jane, described as a 39-year-old lunatic annuitant.

The 1901 census does not mention Brigsend by name, but there are two entries with the house name Roadside, Westness. I am just assuming that one is in fact Brigsend, and the other could well be what was known as Westness Cottage, on the east side of the road, beside the track that leads up to the Muckle Water. The pictures above show Westness Cottage in 1994, and in a state of dilapidation in 2017.

Roadside 1 was occupied by Frederick Inkster, a 32-year-old agricultural labourer from Unst, Shetland, his wife 31-year-old wife Isie, and his aunt Robina Inkster, then an 88-year-old retired domestic servant. Isie was Isabella Craigie, from Corse. During his working life Fred farmed Furse, Innister, and Trumland. After he retired he served as a County Councillor for Rousay for a while, and latterly lived at Greenfield.

The other ‘Roadside’ was occupied by ploughman brothers Robert (21) and George Inkster (19) and their 78-year-old grandmother Barbara Smith.