Wednesday 24 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #12

Hooray! It is Christmas Eve! We've had 20 mini Celebrations already and have sang 'Mistletoe & Wine' to each other at least thrice.

Today's lovely seal is taken from our Baikie of Tankerness collection. It is another burgess and guild brother ticket, this time for the Burgh of Aberdeen. It was presented to James Baikie of Tankerness on the 5th September 1733.

We thought it looked particularly festive with it's swishy red ribbon and we like that the seal itself looks like a jammy dodger.

Merry Christmas !

Oh! We almost forgot! Here's a final festive treat for you. Old, waxy seals are not the only kind of seal you know. There is the singing kind as well. Enjoy:

Orkney Archive reference: D24/9/122

Sunday 21 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #11

Our penultimate seasonal seal is taken from our Sheriff Court collection. It is taken from an envelope (with no letter within) which is addressed to James Robertson. No date or other information are available.

It is a lovely, simple seal with nymph-like creatures either side of a shield with urns on their heads and garlands around their waists.

Orkney Archive reference: SC/11/86/12/2a/29

Friday 19 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #10

Still seals, but this time, they are sketches of Orcadian seals made by Hugh Marwick.

Mr Marwick was a Rousay born historian, archaeologist and teacher.  He was rector of Kirkwall Grammar School for 15 years and published works on Orcadian place names which we still use constantly in the archive.He was born in 1881 and died in 1965.

We like to draw seals too.

Orkney Archive Reference D29/2/3

Wednesday 17 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #9

Another Royal Seal today, that of George II. This, quite frankly enormous, seal is attached to a gift of £200 per year out of the rents and revenues of the Bishopric of Orkney. The recipient was Sholto Charles Douglas, Lord Aberdour. The document is dated 26th February 1754.
According to the National Archive's wonderful Currency Converter, this would be a yearly income equivalent to £14,958 in 2005's money.
Orkney Archive Reference: D38/2323

Monday 15 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #8

Ooooh, this one is a beauty! Taken from a certificate of admittance to the fraternity of Masters and Seamen of Dundee, it is still a lovely, rich red and has a crisp 'dundee' printed underneath an image of a ship.

And look, the ribbon threads right through the certificate.Why does this excite us so? Ahh yes, because we are nerds.


SEAL:  Ooh, the more I get of you, the stranger it feels, yeah!
And now that your rose is in bloom,
A light hits the gloom on the gray!

ARCHIVER: (Grabbing the microphone)Now that your rose is in bloooooom,
A light hits the gloooooom ooooon theeee graaaaay....

DUSTY: (softly) Ba-da-da, ba-da-da-da-da-daaaaaa

Orkney Archive Reference: D28/4/2/3

Saturday 13 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #7

Taken from the Baikie of Tankerness collection, this seal is sadly incomplete. It is, however, totally awesome as it bears the crowned head of a king with sword arm aloft.

SEAL: (grudgingly) That is pretty cool.

Orkney Archive Reference; D24/3/105

Friday 12 December 2014

Stop & Bop

It is most definitely time for a Friday Bop. The hideous weather (we had THREE DAYS of thunder and lightning and it is STILL rubbish today) demands it.

But we're all sick of Christmas songs already right? And yet this kind of weather creates a need for something seasonal and at the same time heart-warming and jolly doesn't it?

What could fit the bill?!


Oh let's just stop work altogether and listen to Aztec Camera all day long:

Thursday 11 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #6

Our sixth festive seal is taken from a charter dated 1594 by George Balfour and is in Scots.

We quite like it because it reminds us a bit of a jam tart.

SEAL: *high-pitched voice* We quite like it 'cos it's like a jam tart!

SEAL: I could have given you so much Orkney Archive. Remember this bad boy? Of course you do, everyone does, it's a flippin' CLASSIC:

Orkney Archive Reference: D1/1030/3

Tuesday 9 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #5

Three Seals at once!

Orkney Archive Reference D1/1030/1 is a Charter dated 1566 by Alexander Deik, provost of the Cathedral of Orkney,in favour of Gilbert Balfour of certain lands in South Ronaldsay. The document is in Latin.

It looks like two seals belonging to Adam Bothwell, then Bishop of Orkney, have been attached.

SEAL: Has Adam Bothwell been married to a supermodel? I doubt it! Amateurs.

ARCHIVER & DUSTY: *soothingly* Shhhhhhhh. Hush now.

Orkney Archive Reference: D1/1030/1

Sunday 7 December 2014

The 12 seals of Christmas #4

A Royal Seal this time, that of King Charles II to be exact. It is attached to a charter of ratification in favour of Henry Graham of Breckness, confirming his lands in Stromness, Sandwick, Orphir and Kirkwall and St Ola.

The date is April 1669 and, like most of these documents, the material is vellum. The seal is known as the Virginia Seal.

SEAL: Have any of your stupid seals ever performed at a ROYAL Variety Show?!!

ARCHIVER: *patiently* No, Seal.

Orkney Archive Reference: D3/419/5

Friday 5 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #3

SEAL: I've told my mum about how you tricked me and she says it's really unfair!

ARCHIVER: Not now Seal. We're working.

SEAL: Yeah, working at ruining others' self -esteem...

ARCHIVER: Oh come now, have a Twix.


Today's fab seal is another burgess ticket, this time for the burgh of Wick in favour of Robert Baikie of Tankerness. The date is 4th November 1878.

The Wick seal is lovely, a wee townscape of buildings beside the shore.

Orkney Archive Reference: D24/9/131

Wednesday 3 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #2

This beauty is attached to a precept of clare constat (a deed in which a superior acknowledges that it 'clearly appears' that someone is heir to landed property held of the superior) by George, Bishop of Orkney, in favour of Robert Elphinstone as heir to Rany Elphinstone, his father, of the half pennyland of Hamagar in Cairston in the sheriffdom of Orkney.

Dated 17th September 1616. Orkney Archive Reference D1/792

This seal is heavy and rounded at the back with a thick layer of yellowing wax. The arms shown are those of the Graham clan: a seal quartered by roses and scallops.

DUSTY: Hey Archiver.

ARCHIVER: Hey Dusty.

DUSTY: Seal told me to tell you that he's really upset and that he's still willing to appear on the blog if you say sorry to him.

ARCHIVER: I'm sorry about the confusion but there's no room for him this advent. *shouts* Sorry Seal!

SEAL: *behind door* You will be! I notice none of your poxy wax seals had a Batman movie theme-tune. You're pathetic!

DUSTY: Maybe give him a bit of time. I'll give him a twix.

Monday 1 December 2014

The 12 Seals of Christmas #1



ARCHIVER: It's almost Christmas time, Seal.

SEAL: Indeed. Gets here faster every year doesn't it?

ARCHIVER: We usually celebrate advent on the blog and I've got a nifty idea for 2014.

SEAL: *listening face*

ARCHIVER: Well. You know how we love us a seal here at the archives?

SEAL: *blushes*

ARCHIVER: We were thinking of having a '12 seals of Christmas'. A different seal for every couple of days. You know, a fancy seal, an informal seal, a 19th century seal...

SEAL: *eagerly*- a 'Crazy' Seal!

ARCHIVER: Exactly, all the different kinds. Do you mind doing us a favour?

SEAL: Of course not! Anything! This is really exciting! Thanks so much for thinking of me!

ARCHIVER: Could you perhaps print out a list of documents with seals attached from our catalogue and then get them out for me? My bunions are playing up.

SEAL: *.......*

ARCHIVER: Did you hear me?

SEAL: *sulkily* - You mean wax seals? On bits of old letters?

ARCHIVER: Yes of course. Why, what did you think I was talking about? Seal? Seal? SEAL!

Oh well, better crack on:

Seal number 1 is attached to a Burgh of Kirkwall burgess ticket in favour of Mr John Geddes, druggist in Kirkwall.

Its date is the 4th of November 1862 and it was gifted to the archive in 1986.

A burgess ticket was originally granted to an inhabitant of a burgh who owned land. It was later restricted to merchants and craftsmen and later still could be presented to outsiders who had performed a service for the burgh. One needed a burgess ticket to practise a trade or vote in elections.

This seal is kept inside its own round, little, metal case which is awesome.

Orkney Archive Reference D1/85/4

Monday 17 November 2014

Orkney At War (Nov 14 - Jan 15)

Here are a few items from the second instalment of our Orkney At War exhibition. These items are taken from records during the second three months of the war.
Although the first item from James Marwick's Diary is from October, it shows that security is increasing rapidly. The Orcadian publishes its first letters home from soldiers and we hear about the value of men with false teeth.

D1/1118 – Diary of experiences and daily incidents during the Great War
Written by James Marwick, Lieut/Capt Orkney Royal Garrison Artillery (T)
The Orkney Royal Garrison Artillery, (T) was a Special Service Section which voluntarily agreed for special duty on certain stations. These men received a small retaining fee.
1914 Oct 13th (Thursday) Fair. /Rose 7am and had breakfast. … Reached Stromness at 11am and I marched those for Hoy B’try to Drill Hall. They were mostly from Birsay. Broke off until 2pm. The Drill Hall was used as quarters for the men and the Temperance Hall also. Those belonging to the town were quartered at home. I lived at home as did the other officers for there was no accommodation elsewhere. The huts were being put up. / Were working at outer B’try near old Jumping over dyke. There were 2/ 12pds mounted. Searchlights being erected further west. The Battery had been hastily put up by Marines most of whose work had to be pulled down….As we were making for Stromness in the drifter we had to go to H.M.S. Hannibal lying off the East Lighthouse. … No vessel allowed now to Stromness harbour without permission or written authority.

From the Orkney Herald 4 November 1914
The London Gazette last Tuesday contained a notification by the Home Secretary widely extending the list of prohibited areas under the Aliens Restriction Order.  The following whole counties are now prohibited areas:- Monmouthshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Sussex, Glamorganshire, Argyllshire, Buteshire, Caithness, Fifeshire, Haddington, Kincardineshire, Kinross, Linlithgow, Nairnshire, Orkney, Ross and Cromarty, Sutherlandshire, Zetland, Cork, Dublin, Kerry, and the Isle of Wight.  In addition the prohibited areas in essex, Kent, Lincolnshire, Northumberland, Aberdeenshire, Argyllshire, and Inverness-shire are extended, and the areas of Banffshire and Berwickshire are prohibited.  [Under the operation of the Order a number of aliens of various nationalities residing in Orkney and Shetland were last week removed to places outside the prohibited areas].

From the Orcadian 14 November 1914

Rev. Alexander Goodfellow has received a letter from his nephew, Pte. Arnot Goodfellow, who belongs to the Black Watch.  It was written on the 19th October, bearing the postmark of Poperinghe, which is an old commercial town of Belgium, in the province of West Flanders, 4 miles from the French frontier and 8 miles west of Ypres by rail…The letter had been censored in London but nothing had been removed…Arnot writes “I have just received your parcel which came all right though it had got a lot of knocking about.  I am pleased you sent a pair of cuffs as they will be very handy, also the belt.  I was waiting patiently for some writing-paper, and I have got a good supply now – off course I give some to my chums when they want to write.  I enjoyed the remainder of the parcel.  The pencils also will come in handy…
We are beginning to wonder when the end is going to come.  It cannot come soon enough, and I hope it will not be long.  My chum Bannerman from Arbroath was killed on the 14th September, our last big battle.  We lay in the trenches for a month after the fight facing the Germans who were continually attacking parts of the line.  On several occasions when outside the firing line I heard them speaking and, by going out a certain distance, we could see them, whilst we were continually being annoyed by snipers.  The German infantry don’t seem to be up to much but they have got splendid artillery.  During the time we lay in the trenches they accounted for about 100 of our chaps, I believe, all with their artillery, except one or two who were sniped.  On the 14th September the Black Watch lost 461 – that includes killed, wounded and missing – which was the greatest number the regiment has ever lost in one day.


From the Orkney Customs and Excise Collection which includes a correspondence and memorandum book for the Royal Naval Reserve, a letter explains that the age limit of seamen is to be increased and not to employ men with false teeth.

D1/1118 – Diary of experiences and daily incidents during the Great War

James Marwick describes his time in Stromness

1914 Dec 14th  (Monday)

I stopped writing my diary for a month for there was nothing unusual to put down. We altered the watches putting in a dog watch 8-11, 11-2pm making the watches a good deal easier until Monday Dec 6th, when the inner group also were manned and all detachments reduced to 4 men. Capt. of H.M.S. Hannibal visited Battery on Sat Dec 5th. Huts were entered on Sunday 13th. They were not quite finished but an effort was made to get the men there so that all could be together. / Father sprained his ankle badly on Thursday 26th Nov. He was just walking outside coming up from the pier when he stumbled in the darkness and fell with his foot under him. He had to rest and has been in his bed up to now, 14/12/14.

Weather very rough and unsettled. Gales of wind and heavy sleety showers. Two Trawlers went ashore in Harbour one day but got off. Lifeboat called out three times to vessels, fortunately no lives lost.

Strict watch kept for submarines. Topday (Monday 14/12/14) I am on watch 2pm – 8pm. There is no accommodation for all the officers in the huts so I stay at home and am not sorry. I do a little work and keep the business together a little. Capt. D B. Peace was here for some time but was ordered to headquarters. 2nd /Lt Baldwin was sent here, so we have five officers. On 12/12/14 there was a concert for naval & men in Town Hall and it was well attended. Tea was supplied. A club has been formed and is carried on by the ladies of the town in Town Hall for men off the trawlers and warships.

Friday, Xmas Day, Dec. 25th

Frosty and clear and fine. I brought in Christmas Day in the shelter by the outer Battery. We shook hands all round and exchanged usual compliments as soon as midnight came and went. / Coming home from Battery I came down the New Road in South End and it was just like glass from top to bottom. Sitting on my “hookers” I slid half way down when off came my mitten. I was nearly at the street before I could stop. Then slowly crawling on all fours back to get my mitten I slipped on my side and rolled right across the road so slippery and it is a mercy no one saw me else I would have been put down as drunk. / Watch 2pm – 8pm.

Christmas Day was different for Margaret Tait in Kirkwall. In Dec 1914, she would be about 55 years old:
D1/525 Diary of Margaret Tait
25th Christmas Day
I rose, dressed & went to the window to have a look out on Broad Street. It seemed strange to see the shop windows without the barricades & stranger still to think there would be no Ba's played today. The war has changed everything. It is the first time in the memory of the oldest inhabitant that no Ba' has been played & it is a great miss.
James Marwick describes an incident in Stromness on Hogmanay:

Thursday, Dec 31st
Moderate / Watch 6am – 10am / Had very nasty bilious attack with headache. Was in bed all afternoon. / There was a shooting accident on the street in the evening. A boy off one of the water carrying steamers fired a revolver or pistol on the street. The bullet entered Hilda Harvey’s foot and made a very nasty wound but it did not lodge in her, for a mercy. The police took the boy to the lock-up. The incident created quite a stir in the town.
Margaret witnesses wartime events in Kirkwall:
Jan 2)
A Norwegian Steamer blown up by a mine in the North Sea. Part of crew picked up by trawler & brought to K'wll. The remainder drowned. Also shipload of Iceland ponies brought to K'wll as possible contraband of war.

And James Marwick gets a transfer...Thursday Jan 7th

Fine. /Watch 2am - 6am. Off at 10am. Was in town all day. Brought out some more things at night. When I came to Battery at 6pm with a parcel I found orders had been received for me to proceed to Hoxa Battery on Saturday 9th . I was rather taken by surprise but no use saying a word. Watch 6pm-10pm. Slept in huts.
By the end of January 1915 there were problems with the water supply in Stromness:

S1/5, p140. Extract of Minute from Stromness Town Council, 26th January 1915, 10.30am

"A letter from the Burgh Surveyor as to large quantity of water being taken by H. M. Ships was considered and after a discussion with the Burgh Surveyor who was present, the subject was allowed to lie in abeyance at present. It was however remitted to the Water Committee to consider as to purchasing of water meter to be placed at the Harbour Commissioners Pier.

The Council having considered letter from the Stromness Harbour Commissioners of date 7th inst intimating a charge of 2d per ton on all water shipped at the pier as from 1st September last, letter by the Town Clerk in reply of 9th inst, and letter from Harbour Commissioners of 12th inst. in respect that the Harbour Commissioners have not given any proper reply to the Council's letter, the Council refuse to consider the matter further in hoc statu [for the time being]."

Click on the label "Orkney at War" below to see more blog posts on this subject.

Imagine an advert like this appearing today...

Taken from The Orcadian dated 17th January 1874.

Monday 3 November 2014

By Jove, It's a Stove!

We have several folders worth of picnic photos in the photographic archive. Orcadians obviously loved a good picnic and the images range from small get togethers to vast, highly attended occasions.

Some of our photographs show very dressed up people, some show picnickers having a break in scruffy work clothes. Some show lunchers munching on a banana and boiled egg, others have tables full of plated sandwiches and cakes.

The one thing that is always done properly is tea. Even if the picnic is a casual affair with a few sandwiches out of a basket, eaten off a be-napkinned lap, there are always proper cups, and quite often an actual kettle. Above shows a typical example.

We enjoy tea at the Orkney Archives (perhaps we have mentioned?), so imagine our delight when we found these pictures of a picnic where, not only were several kettles in attendance, but an actual STOVE with a CHIMNEY.


All of these photos were taken from the miscellaneous file so we do not know where they took place or who attended.

Monday 27 October 2014

What a Witch...

We have blogged before about our love of palaeography and how it makes us feel like brilliant detectives or spies.
Usually, we are tackling old trial documents which are full of legal jargon and boring references to areas of land being contested.The above document, however, is about alleged witch Helen Isbister and all of the wicked things she was accused of doing.
It is quite hard going but so far we have discovered that she is accused of " be hir enchantment and dyvelrie, charming the meis (mice) in St Ola who went be hir enchantment into a park... thay wire found all deid in the heart of the park."
She also seems to have given a drink of milk to someone who later drowned, healed a local man of his sickness and, the sin which turns up frequently in old witch accusations, was seen with 'a black man' who was assumed to be her lover, the devil.
Poor Helen, she merely performed useful extermination services whilst handing out calcium-rich snacks and HEALING people. Medieval people sound hard to please.

Friday 24 October 2014

Shock Symbol

There have been a few articles on the history of the swastika symbol and its appropriation by Nazi Germany recently including this on the BBC website: and an interesting programme on Radio 4:

We were shocked to find it in a copy of a local newspaper in 1939:

Monday 20 October 2014

Terribly Terrific Tigers


We are very sorry for the lack of posting recently but various tragic I.T. occurrences have made it very difficult. Rest assured that we have been wailing over keyboards whilst rending our clothes in a bid to communicate with you.

The letter shown above caused much hilarity in the searchroom a few days ago as it is possibly the poshest letter ever written. David Balfour is being alerted to the fact that his tiger heads have been left in the capable hands of one Mr Sanderson and his correspondent draws attention to the hard won (8 days of stalking!) tiger head of a Mr David Kennedy although " I consider that yours are specimens that are not easily equalled."

Read it do. It'll make you feel like a peasant.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Orkney At War (Aug-Oct 1914) Exhibition Taster

As promised here are a few of the items we have used in our exhibition:


There has been great activity in Naval and Military circles in Orkney for over a week, and whilst it is not yet advisable to go into details, it may be of interest to state that so long ago as Wednesday of last week special service sections of the Orkney Artillery were called out and sent to their appointed stations. On Sunday the remainder of the force was mobilised, and further detachments at once sent forward to certain points which are understood to be of strategic value. The remainder of the men were allowed to proceed home but had instructions to hold themselves in readiness for an immediate call. The orders to mobilise came on Monday evening and all night long the men from the out-stations were arriving at headquarters, where the Kirkwall companies had already reported for duty. The calling out of the Orkney Artillery at such an early stage in the crisis created great excitement in Orkney, especially in view of the fact that at one time it was decided to disband the corps, and it was only with great exertion on the part of those concerned that this was averted.
The Orcadian, 8 August 1914

In his diary, James Marwick, Lieutenant/Captain in the Royal Garrison Artillery (Territorial Division) wrote on Monday 3rd August:

"Mobilised at Drill Hall Stromness 3pm. I was there in full marching order ready to go"

On Wednesday 5th August he was in Rackwick:

"The  tents were pitched on flat piece of ground between Mucklehouse and Black Neave near a low wall which Mr Taylor had built. Three tents for men to live in; one cook's store tent; one Guard Tent on level space...Serg. Mackay & I lived in Test house. There were a couple of chair beds and blankets &c in it and we just took possession of these..."

Orkney Archive Reference D1/1118

A very different perspective came from Stewart Isbister who was a new recruit to the Royal Garrison Artillery (Territorial Division) in 1914. In his memoir, having been posted to Kirkwall Drill Hall from Finstown,  he wrote: "I cannot begin to tell you of the lonesomeness of those days, my first away from home and the new Army life I found so bewildering. "

Orkney Archive Reference D1/1177

In Scapa Bay construction work was ongoing as, on 13 August 1914, less than two weeks into the First World War Admiral Jellicoe requested that anti submarine patrols by seaplane be flown in defence of the fleet in Scapa Flow.  As a result a seaplane base was quickly constructed at the head of Scapa Bay.
The canvas covered hangars used were, however, no match for the winter gales which often blow in Orkney and a more sheltered site was found at Houton Bay in the parish of Orphir.
Orkney Archive Reference CO7/7/4 (plan dated c.1920)

Our current exhibitions chart Orkney's experience of WW1 at home through the use of official documents, letters home, newspaper articles, diaries and photographs. We have three so far, each covering three months of the war.

Click on the label "Orkney at War" below to see more blog posts on this subject.

Saturday 9 August 2014

County Show Woe

We are pretty good to our customers really. While the rest of the county is drunk and 'tasting' cakes in Bignold park, we valiantly maintain our posts at the archive desk just in case someone gets tired of a field full of home-brew, home-bakes and waltzers.

It is County Show day again in Orkney and, whilst we would normally be crying into our documents because we're not eating a cake next to a pony, we feel slightly less short-changed today. Because it is raining. Lots.

The same thing happened in 1950:

Psssst, winter is coming...

Wednesday 6 August 2014

Orkney At War (Aug-Oct 1914)

We have a new exhibition! 

"Orkney at War: August - October 1914" is the first in a series of new exhibitions in the Orkney Archive to commemorate WW1. This one concentrates on the first three months and the impact war had on these islands. We show extracts from three war diaries from very different perspectives, an article on the history of the postal service, emergency town council minutes on finding extra hospital accommodation, a plan of a hastily built seaplane station at Scapa, reports from the Orcadian newspaper on the war at home and abroad, and many more archive items.

This exhibition is available to see during Archive opening hours

For those of you who can't visit the exhibition I'll be sharing some of the documents used over the next few months.

Sunday 27 July 2014

Act of Grace

On this day 27th July in 1880 we have a curious Sheriff Court Petition for Benefit of the Act of Grace. It's the only one in the whole collection, so I thought I'd share it with you all.

I realised this is my geeky side revealing itself when I told the story to Archiver and she could not stop yawning. So please comment if you find it interesting, then I can point at her, laugh, and say "I told you so!" In a respectful colleague to colleague way, of course.

Definition Act of Grace: A privilege or concession that cannot be claimed as a right: e.g. the bonus remains a payment made as an act of grace
In Scots Law this concession mainly referred to civil debt. When a person is imprisoned for not paying their debt, they can petition the court to let them out if it can be proved they do not have the means to pay. If the debt is an aliment (a fund of maintenance), then it can be changed to installments of not less than three-pence. [Information from A Dictionary of the Law of Scotland by Robert Bell, pub.1815]

Our example is about William Gunn, a shoemaker from Orphir in the West Mainland who is in Kirkwall Jail and Jane McKay from South Faray or Fara, an island in Scapa Flow.

Doc 1. Petition on behalf of  William Gunn, from Orphir, who is in prison for not paying a debt to Jane McKay "the incarcarating creditor" who resides in South Pharay. The debt being the total sum of "seventeen pounds, sixteen shillings and ninepence" to pay for the birth and subsequent care of an illegimate male child since 17th February and "taxed expenses of process". William Gunn's petitioner states that he is "in poor circumstances and is neither able to pay the said sums nor to Aliment [maintain] himself in prison. He is therefore under the necessity of applying to the court for the benefit of the Act of Grace." John Macrae, Pursuers Agent, 27 July 1880.

Doc 2. Answers for Jane MacKay by her solicitor William Cowper, states that William Gunn has "movable property to the value of about fifteen shillings Sterling" and so he is not entitled to the benefit of the Act of Grace. Lodged 30th July 1880.

Doc 3. Certified copy of the Petition, 31st July 1880.
Doc 4. Minutes and Interlocutors: The Sheriff Substitute orders William Gunn to be brought to court to be examined by him on Friday 6th August. But on Friday 6th August, "Macrae for the pursuer respectfully craves leave to withdraw the action". This craving is granted.
Doc 5. Copy of Minutes and Interlocutors.
Doc 6. Copy of Inventory of documents.
So William Gunn did not get his Act of Grace after all. But did Jane ever get any money? Who was the illegitimate male child? There are no more documents to give these answers unfortunately.
Archive Reference: SC11/5/1880/98

Thursday 10 July 2014

Baton a hot Orkney Evening.

I'm sitting in a near empty searchroom listening to the sounds of the Queen's Commonwealth Games Baton pass by outside. Searching the catalogue for something appropriate to commemorate this occasion, I can find absolutely nothing on the subject. But that has never stopped us before... and nor will it tonight!

Here is a selection of hastily cobbled together...ahem...carefully researched items on Common, Wealth and Games.

Firstly Common or rather Commonty. Here is a copy of the beautiful lithographed plan of the commonty of Deerness from 1839. [Archive Reference: D7/2/1(F4)]

Commonty maps show common land divided among the tenants or owners of the local district or township. These plans provide names and is a good source for family or property historians.This plan is currently being shown in our Archive Searchroom exhibition, "Family History Sources in the Orkney Archive" (plug plug).

Secondly for Wealth here is a photograph of the Kirkwall Amateur Dramatic Society departing for Thurso to perform "Tons of Money" in 1938. [Archive reference: D44/4/2]

And thirdly for Games here are some extracts from an article about kids games which were imported and adapted in Orkney. The article was compiled and written by Ernest Marwick in the 1970s. [Archive Reference: D31/10/9]:

"The great majority of our games were imported from much further south. They frequently found their way to Kirkwall from the streets of London, especially the singing games. These were bought from Jewish book vendors at the Lammas Market, and were eagerly hunted for among piles of penny broadsheets containing the songs and diversions of the age. No sooner had Orkney children learned them than they began to adapt them to their own tastes."

"Before we pass on to the more modern singing games, an unnoticed survival from Norse times may be described. This is what we know in Orkney as faely fight . Boys, ranged against each other as individuals (very seldom as teams) threw handfuls of wet turf, which were hastily kicked from the ground on the toe of the boot and as hastily converted to missiles. The game was so fast, and the antagonists so excited and breathless, that direct hits were few. The Norsemen used to enjoy this game. They called it Torfleikr."

"Now to the singing games."

"See the robbers passing by, passing by, passing by:
See the robbers passing by, my fair lady.

What's the robbers done to you, done to you, done to you?
What's the robbers done to you, may fair lady?

Broke my locks and stole my gold, stole my gold, stole my gold.
Broke my locks and stole my gold, my fair lady.

We shall go and capture them, capture them, capture them
We shall go and capture them, my fair lady.

This was a tug-o-war game"

"John, John the gundyman
Washed his face in the frying-pan
Combed his hair wi' the leg o' the chair:
John, John the gundyman

The child was held on the knee, and the actions of the washing and combing were simulated while the appropriate words were being sung."

"Go round and round the village
Go round and round the village
Go round and round the village
As you have done before.

Go in and out the windows, etc.

Stand up and face your lover, etc.

Come follow me to London (or Dublin), etc.

The children stand in a circle with a space between each. The player who begins the game walks around outside the circle during the singing of the first verse. He varies this during the second verse by making his way through the spaces between the players, passing in front of the first, behind the next, and so on. Throughout the third verse he stands in front of the player he chooses. He leads her around the circle while the last verse is sung, after which he joins the players in the circle, and the game begins all over again."