Whome – with Windbreck, Geurhouse, Pow and Scabra

Edited section of the first Ordnance Survey map of Rousay, showing the location of the houses named above.

Whome was a farm on Rousay situated close to the dyke which separated Westness from Quandale. Spelt Quham in the Rental of 1503, it was skatted as a 3d. land. It is recorded that the rents of two and a quarter pennylands in Quham, which had belonged to Sir Malise Sperra, were then “in Sir Thomas Cragy’s and John Cragy’s hands”; the remaining three-quarter pennyland was called Breck. The old farm-buildings stood a little way below the public road above the old houses of Brough, and were later used as sheepfolds.

Drummond and Isabel Craigie lived and worked at Whome towards the end of the 18th century. They had three children; Mary was born in 1792, William on May 3rd 1798, and James, who was born on July 28th 1801. Drummond then married Barbara Murray in 1804, and they had two children; Betty was born on July 29th 1805, and Alexander who was born at Kettlewhoam on April 25th 1808. A lady known as Giles Craigie became Drummond’s third wife in 1822.

Living at Wholme, as it was spelt in the census of 1841, was Cecilia Craigie, a 70-year-old farmer, and Betsy Craigie, though the main tenant was the aforementioned Alexander Craigie. He married Ann Murray, the daughter of Magnus  Murray  and Janet Robertson of Tofts, Quandale, who was born in 1813. They had seven children; Mary, Janet, John, and Margaret, who were all born between 1837 and 1847 at Wholme. The family then moved to Loweshouse in the neighbourhood of Feolquoy in Wasbister, where James and Alexander were born in 1850 and 1853. They then they moved into Feolquoy, where another son Magnus was born in 1856.

The farm was spelt Whome in the census of 1851, and there were two tenants; Christian Danny, a 52-year-old widowed pauper, and her daughter Betsy, then a 15-year-old agricultural labourer.

The other tenant was James Murray, a 34-year-old agricultural labourer. Having been evicted from Tofts at Quandale the Murray family moved to Whome. Magnus Murray died in 1846, and his widow Janet was now in her 68th year and described in the census as independent. James’s 25-year-old sister Mary, who was an agricultural labourer, also lived there. They were the last inhabitants of Whome before it became incorporated within Westness farm.

Windbreck, or Windbreak as it was spelt in the census of 1841, was a house on the Westside situated below the Slap of Aklar, near the bend on the public road close to the old School. At this time it was occupied by farmer Alexander Logie and his family. Alexander was originally a merchant, living at Quoygrinnie and his first wife was Isabel Harold. They had six children, the first three of whom were born at Cott, Westside – James on December 13th 1819, Charles on December 13th 1821, and Betty on August 29th 1823. The other three were born at Windbreck – another Betty, born on November 13th 1825, Maria on July 20th 1828, and Mary on May 1st 1831. Alexander’s second wife was Barbara Murray and they had a further five children; Magnus, born in 1839, Eliza in 1842, Margaret in 1846, Alexander in 1849, and John, in 1850.

The land of Geurhouse, an even older farm to the south-west, had already been annexed to Windbreck by 1841. Nearer the cliffs was another farm called Skaebrae, or Scabra, reckoned sometime as a 5d. land. Between 1733 and 1740 it was occupied  by  Ursula  Marwick. It then passed into the hands of John Couper who was married to Jean Ballenden and they had a son Magnus. In 1799 George Hercus and his wife Christian lived and worked there. The farm and its land later became part of Westness Farm.

Pow was a farm on Westside, later incorporated within Westness Farm. The old house-site was situated between Whome and Scabra Head and in the early 19th century it was occupied by the Reid family and they farmed the adjacent land.

George Reid was born in Westray in 1755 and he married Barbara Logie, the daughter of Gilbert Logie and Helen Scott of Westray. They had six children; Barbara, born in 1801; George in 1807; Peter in 1810; Jean in 1813; Elizabeth in 1815; and Mary who was born in 1819, but she died at a young age.

By the time the census of 1841 was carried out old George and his wife Barbara had moved along the Westside to Garson. In 1831 their son George married Janet Harcus, daughter of William Harcus and Christy Flaws, and between 1832 and 1844 they had eight children: firstborn was William, on April 10th 1832, but he died at the age of just ten; George, born on January 1st 1834; Mary, on March 28th 1835; John, born on November 6th 1837; Peter, on  November 19th 1838; Hannah, on December 2nd 1840; William, on December 21st 1842; and Lydia, on October 11th 1844. George was a cottar sub-tenant at Pow, and during the Westness Clearances in 1848 he was deprived of the land. Having been evicted he and his family moved to the opposite side of the island where he built a new home – Wasdale.

George Reid the younger, and his wife Janet Harcus

[Both photos courtesy of the Tommy Gibson Collection]