Wednesday 3 May 2023

Coronation Charles!

We don't know about you readers, but we have already cellophaned our platters of coronation chicken sandwiches and coronation quiche, organised our Pimms jugs and festooned the archive with bunting made only from royal-themed print outs from the Orcadian microfilms.

The library staff will be on duty this Saturday because they are traitors but the archive staff are all loyal subjects and will not move from our televisions until Charles III has been crowned. To recap: the library is open and the archive is dutifully closed.

If, like us, you cannot wait, then feast your eyes upon previous Orcadian coronation celebrations from 1902, 1911, 1937 and 1953 and then watch our delightful image gallery of His Majesty's 6 hour visit to Orkney in 1979 where he greeted crowds at St Magnus, visited a jewellery factory, opened Orphir primary school and met a time-travelling Cheryl Cole* at the fudge factory. 

He also visited with his parents in 1960 spending a peaceful afternoon picnicking on a holm (small island) with his sister whilst the Queen and Prince Philip attended to their Royal duties.

 *Prob. not Cheryl Cole.

Tuesday 2 May 2023

Wow! Wasbister 1402

 This is our earliest document, it is a disposition by Magnus Andro and Jonet Magnus of ½ penny land in Wasbister in Holm to John Mason and it was written in the year 1402. 

Document reference D5/32/1/1, part of the Sutherland Graeme of Graemeshall Collection

It is mentioned in History of the Church in Orkney in 1901:

From the Introduction of Christianity to 1558 by Rev. J B Craven Rector of St Olaf’s Church Kirkwall. p101

 An early Orcadian ecclesiastic of the name was “Schyr Jhon Synclar”, who in 1402, appended his seal, at Kirkwall, to a deed in favour of John Mason, burgess of Kirkwall, of land in Holm.”


Here is a full transcription from Records of the Earldom of Orkney, published in 1914, p194-195 with an argument by editor Joseph Storer Clouston against the date written on the document.

XCIII - DISPOSITION, MAGNUS ANDREW QUHITQUOY’S SON* AND JONAT MAGNUS CUTHAMY’S DAUGHTER** to John Mason, burgess of Kirkwall, of a half penny land in Wasbister in the parish of Holm.

Be it kend till all men be this present writ, vs Mawnus Andro Quitquiysson and Jonat Mawnus Cuthamys dochtyr, witht consent of our vmbythisman, witht hand and handband till haue sauld analiit [sic] a half penny land lyand in Wasbuster in the parochan of Hom, till a discrete man, Jhon Masoun, burgess of Kirkwau, for the sowme of fyve cronis of vsuale mone of Skotland and twa ky, gevin till vs be the said John in our gret necessite, the first penny and the last witht all thar betuix; of the quhilk we, the said Mawnus and Jonat, quytelamis the said Jhon, his aris, executoris, and assignais, the said half pennyland, witht rothe, rycht, fredomis, asyamentis, and profittis quhatsumeuer; to be haldin fra ws the saidis Mawnus and Jonat, our aris, executoris, and assignais, for euer, withoute reuocatioun or ganecall of vs or ony of ouris; with the houss of Wasbustyr. In witnes of the quhilk thyng, we the saidis Mawnus and Joat havand na selis of our awne, has procurit with instance the selis of two worthe men, Schir Jhon Synclar and Jhon Peyrson to be hungin to this present wryt befor this witnes, Mawnus Flete, Fene Skatht [Scarth], James Pase, and Jhon Bolloke, with otheris diuerse, at Kirkwau, the xvi day of Februare, the yere of God a thousand four hundreth [auchty] and twa yeris.

 Notes by transcriber J Storer Clouston

"The actual date in the deed itself is “four hundreth and twa yeris”; but this is clearly wrong for these reasons: It is improbable that an Orkney charter would be written in Scots at that date (although it is possible). The names of John Mason, Sir John Sinclair, John Pierson, and magnus Flett are all found about 1480, and it would be too remarkable a coincidence if a group of duplicate personages (representative men, as all these early witnesses were) existed eighty years previously in Kirkwall. A comparison with the proceeding deed (no. xcii) will show that it is practically word for word the same. No. xcii is dated 1481, and though it is only a duplicate it is a certified copy, and the names in it establish the date as correct."

 *i.e. Magnus the son of Andrew of Quhitquoy.

**i.e. Janet the daughter of Magnus of Cuthamy. Cuthamy can hardly be other than Quoythome in Paplay (none included in the parish of Holm).


An attempt at a modern English translation by Dusty:-

Be it known to all men by this present writ (legal document), us Magnus, son of Andrew of Quhitquoy (or Whitequoy) and Janet, Magnus Cuthamy's daughter, with consent of our agent (or representative), with the joining of hands to make a bargain to transfer a half penny land lying in Wasbuster in the parish of Holm, to a trusted man, John Mason, burgess of Kirkwall for the sum of 5 crowns of usual money of Scotland and two cattle, given to us by John in our great necessity. The first penny and the last with all that in between, which we, the said Magnus and Janet give up title to the said John, his heirs, executors. and assignees, the said half pennyland, without rothe*, right, freedoms, easement and profits whatsoever; to be held from us the said Magnus and Janet, our heirs, executors, and assignees to the said John Mason, his heirs, executors and assignees, forever, without revocation of us or any of ours; with the house of Wasbuster. In witness of that thing, we the said Magnus and Janet having no seals of our own, have procured with instance the seals of two worthy men, Sir John Sinclair and John Peyrson to be hung to this present writ before these witnesses, Magnus Flett, Fene Scarth, James Peace and John Bolloke, with others diverse, at Kirkwall, the 16th day of February, the year of God one thousand four hundred and two years. 

*rothe: the unchallengeable title to ownership of land enjoyed under the udal system. 

First mentioned here on Twitter and then here on our blog.