Saturday, 15 August 2015
Tuesday, 4 August 2015
Archive Reference: D1/525 - Journal of Margaret Tait, 1911-1918
1 August 1915
Orkney Herald newspaper 11th August 1915
Archive Reference: CE55/4/31 - Royal Naval Reserve Letter/Memorandum book, 1910-1924 : Letter from 20th August 1915
Archive Reference: L8745/2 Royal Navy accommodation at St Margaret's Hope pier, c.1914-1918.
Archive Reference: CO5/68/1 - South Walls Public School Logbook, 1895-1922, p428.1915, [page] 428,
2nd Aug - very few children at school as Naval Sports are being held the children are away to them, only 14 not going so gave these holiday.
6th Aug - Attendance poor, 88.5%
15th Aug - Ordinary progress
20th Aug - Received word during the week that this school would be closed for the Normal Vacation for 7 weeks commencing 10th September.
27th Aug - Mr Bruce Compulsory Officer visited school today and examined attendance which is very poor only 77%.
3rd Sep - Ordinary Routine
8th Sep - Naval Sports Half holiday given in accordance with note from School Board Clerk.
9th Septr. - Visited this School today & found the Register correctly marked to date. J.M.F. Groat, Clerk.
Archive Reference: L8214/4 - Uploading supplies at Hoxa Battery, South Ronaldsay, no exact date (c1914-1918)
Archive reference: K1/1/17 - Kirkwall Town Council Minute book, 1912-1920Item read at Kirkwall Town Council meeting on the 7th September 1915
It was agreed on the suggestion of Bailie MacLennan to call the attention of the Local Government Board to a way in which the food supply might be supplemented, vizt., by utilizing the patrol trawlers when possible in fishing.
Monday, 3 August 2015
Here they are filming the baptism of Magnus from the Old Parish Registers for St. Andrews for 1778.
Saturday, 18 July 2015
Saturday, 4 July 2015
Happy 4th of July to all our American Followers!
As a special treat here is a letter describing life in Snowhill, nr Augusta Georgia in December 1775 written by indentured servant Baikia Harvey to his Godfather Thomas Baikie of Firth, Orkney.
I am very sorry that I did not take your Advice and stay at home with you as I have found to my sad experence that I ought not to have slightig your advice. Mr Gordon was vere good to me but Mr Brown us'd me vere ill and I Runaway from him & wint to the Armey that was mar[c]hing up to the Back parts of South Carolina against a sett of people they will call Torrys in this Country and whin I came back I went to Ane Mr LeRoy Hammond Merchant in So. Carolina & he Bought my time which I am vere glad of for he & his Lady uses me vere will & give me Cloaths & I Ride with my master & loves them Both You'l Please to send me all the money you can Collect that is my Due by the first safe opportunity that I may be enabled to Buy my time & Put myself to some Tradesman to Learn his calling for a Tradsman has good Wages in this Country I beg that none of my Relations may come to this Country Except they are able to pay thir passage thir Selves and then they may come as soon as they may like this is a good poormans Country when a man once getts into away of Liveing but our Country people knows Nothing when they come hear the Americans are Smart Industours hardypeople & fears Nothing our people is only Like the New Negros that comes out of the ships at first whin they come amongst them I am just Returnd from the Back parts When I seed Eight Thousand men in Arms all with Riffel & Barrill
Orkney Archive Reference: D3/385 Watt of Breckness and Skaill Collection: Letter 30-12-1775
Saturday, 20 June 2015
This isn't as bad as Thomas Kirk's experience, but it is an interesting early description of Orkney and its dangerous seas.
Richard James, 1620, Account of Poland, the Orkney and Shetland Islands, Scotland, Greenland, Etc - Transcript by Evan MacGillivray, Orkney Miscellany, 1953
"Orkneney are manie Ilands on ye [blank] of Scotland. ye biggest of which is not in length 16 mile in which the chief Towne is calld Kircwawe; these islands are plaine for the most part whereas Schetland is highe and mounteinous. they have store of cattle and of sheepe baringe good wool. they have plovers and partridge and hares but no wood."
"The chiefe fisshinge place is the island of North ronnelsea. on ye other side is South-ronnelsea, betwixt which and Catenesse on the maine of Scotland runs a sea of 12 mile calld Penthland Frith, dangerous with manie whirlinge tides and currents which will sucke in sheepes and botes in the passadge"
Monday, 15 June 2015
The manuscript, written in 1684 and titled 'Ane account of the ancient & present state of Orkney', is probably the oldest written description of Orkney. It was written by the Rev. James Wallace, minister of St. Magnus Cathedral, and contains lots of information about the island, their plants, animals and much more besides. In many places he has illustrated his descriptions. Here's an example of his writing, about a particular fish caught in Sanday:
"Tuo years agoe, in winter, there wes taken a Strainge but beautifull fish in Sanda (where severalls of them had been gotten before) called be them Salmon Stour. Itt wes about ane elne in Length, deep breasted & narrow att the taile.... The flesh of the half next to the head wes Like Beef, & the other half next the taile, wes Like Salmond. The picture of which, as neer as I could draw itt, is heer sett doun."
|The 'Salmon Stour', drawn by Rev. J. Wallace|
|St. Magnus Cathedral, drawn by Rev. J. Wallace|
Tuesday, 2 June 2015
The acquisition includes a photograph, a letter and an autobiographical account of William Clouston's childhood and young adulthood in Orkney. William wrote about his childhood home at Houton in the parish of Orphir, where he was born in 1854, part of a large extended family of Cloustons living in the area.
William started school at five years of age. In those days schools consisted of one room where children of all ages were taught together. His first teacher was William Tait, an uncle, and he was followed by a succession of different teachers over the years until William turned fourteen.
|TK3439 - Houton, Orphir|
It must have seemed very strange to be playing with your school friends one day and to be addressed as 'master' by them on the next! William wrote that he managed the teaching part of his first day without too much trouble but when he went out at break time to join in the games he felt a little self-conscious!
William later worked in Stromness in a Drapers shop for some years before moving to Glasgow in 1874. After that he travelled to Michigan, USA, to join one of his brothers working in the lumber industry.
Saturday, 16 May 2015
The General didn't start out too badly. He was educated in Switzerland before being commissioned into the Sutherland Highlanders, fighting in the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny and the North West frontier. He was even recommended for the Victoria Cross for his part in the relief of Lucknow but wasn't awarded it.
His Orkney infamy began when he inherited the Estate of Rousay and Wyre from his 'uncle' George William Traill. He had a reputation as a strict disciplinarian in the Army and evidently carried that on into civilian life. During Traill's management of the estate his factor began to clear tenants off the land to make room for sheep and General Burroughs carried on this cruel practice after he inherited it. .
Resentment grew among the tenants and came to a head when the Napier Commission came to Orkney in 1883 as part of a public inquiry into the condition of crofters and cottars in the Highlands and Islands. Burroughs appeared before the Commissioners and explained what a benevolent laird he was and how he'd spent loads of money improving the estate. Unfortunately for him the evidence didn't back this up so, in an attempt to silence his critics, he announced that any tenants that spoke against him would be evicted. And that's what he did.
James Leonard was a tenant and gave evidence at the Napier Commission hearing in Kirkwall. For this he and his family were thrown out of their home.
So this brings us back around to the letters in the Halcro Johnston collection. The letters are a record of the activities of the Rousay and Egilsay School Board from March to September 1885. At the start of that time General Burroughs was Chair and James Johnston, factor of the Baikie Estate which included Egilsay, had just been elected as a member. Another member, receiving the highest number of votes, was James Leonard. This was never going to go well! No sooner had the Board got going the General was up to his old tricks of hurling threats around, this time aimed at the other members of the Board. Their "crime" had been to permit James Leonard use of the school building to deliver lectures on temperance, to which Burroughs objected because of "the terms in which Mr. Leonard referred to me before the Crofters Commission and since". He finished by threatening to apply for an interdict to make the board members liable for any expenses. In a letter written the next day by the local Free Church minister it was pointed out that the lectures would not and could not happen anyway because James Leonard, who was employed as a temperance lecturer, had left the island, writing "I cannot understand how they fail to be aware of it".
General Burroughs days as Chair of the School Board were numbered however. By June he had resigned in protest at the dismissal of the Clerk to the Board George Meikle McCrie. McCrie was also Inspector of the Poor and was considered by the crofters to have aided and abetted the General's policy of providing as little relief as possible to the poor.
If anyone would like to learn more about the saga of General Burroughs and the crofters of Rousay I'd recommend The little General and the Rousay crofters by William PL Thomson. You really could make a great Sunday night television drama out of the story. Poldark doesn't compare!
Friday, 8 May 2015
Tuesday, 5 May 2015
From the Diary of Margaret Tait, sister to James Tait, cabinet maker, Kirkwall (Archive Ref. D1/525)
Royal Naval Reserve Letter (Archive Ref. CE55/4/31, page 110) Enrolment of boys in the trawlers section
EGGS FOR OUR WOUNDED SOLDIERS AND SAILORS IN HOSPITAL
This is just a small selection of the items shown in our display for May, June, July 1915. Please do come in, if you can, to view the rest.
Saturday, 25 April 2015
World Heritage Day display recently.
Orkney Archive Reference: D8/4/1/2 Plan of the buildings uncovered at Skaill in Sandwick in 1867.
Stromness 30th Decr 1814
I'm well aware, that your ears will be assail'd at this time from all quarters on the subject of a scrape I got into on my farm in Stenness, by pulling down 2 of the stones, that stood in a field of lay ground, which I was preparing to plue up: and as I flatter myself, from this friendly attention, you have shown me hitherto that you would be sorry for a thing of this kind I write you at present to see if you would have the goodness, to speake to Mr Riddoch, or any other of the Gentlemen concerned, to assure them that I was not in the smallest degree aware of giving them, or the meanest individual in the County offence by doing so.
My Landlord was the only person to whom I thought, I was accountable, and as I mentioned to Mr Rae, the necessity of pulling down a few of those stones, for the purpose of [?] the Fields,
However as I cannot now recall what is done, I request the favour of you to make what use of communication you deem best to prevent any further steps being taken that might operate to my prejudice.
I have the honour to remain
Dr Captn Edmeston
your very obed. Servt.
Pencil drawing of the interior of Maeshowe, after excavation. Artist and date unknown.