I don't know exactly when James Stevens Linklater left Orkney to try his luck ‘abroad’ in Scotland. Born in Aith on the 25th October 1850, the 1851 Census noted his 5 month old presence in ‘East Aith’. Come 1861, the last census to record him in Orkney placed him in ‘Aith’. Thereafter he was recorded living in Leith. Records from census returns for him and other close relatives in Orkney up to and including 1911 appear below. For details of James after he left Orkney see James Stevens Linklater.
Above is a detail from the O.S. 1888 showing Aith, a small collection of properties that had once formed the tunship of ‘Aithstown’. Aith is at the eastern end of the Loch of Skaill. The 25” O.S. map shown above shows both West and East Aith, the latter including the Post Office where James was born. After 1861, while James is absent from the Orkney record, his father and mother continued to live in Aith until their deaths in 1874 and 1902 respectively. His father David was born in Kirbister at the northern end of the parish of Stromness, near the border with Sandwick and 2½ miles south of Aith. The town of Stromness is roughly 3½ miles south of Kirbister.
The first census in Scotland was taken in 1821. Not all the records survive, but most of those for Orkney do, including Sandwick and Stromness. Until 1832 the two parishes had been one combined parish. The Sandwick 1821 Census lists ‘area 21’ as Aithstown, Sandwick, and records that Irvines were in possession of property in Aith with no sign of any Linklaters - nor any sign of Janet Irvine, my great-great-grandmother, who was not even a twinkle in her lecherous father's eye at that stage. Before proceeding with the census data, a caveat from the editors of my transcript. “The spelling of house names and surnames etc are often recorded as the enumerator ‘hears’ them and may vary accordingly. The ages of the residents cannot all be accepted as accurate; not everyone knew or wanted to give their true age. Also in 1841 the age of everyone over 15 was rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5, e.g. age 25-29 would be recorded as 25.”
Meanwhile, in Kirbister in the parish of Stromness, my great-great-grandfather David was born two months to the day after the Battle of Waterloo. The Stromness 1821 Census lists ‘area 2’ as Stromness, Kirbister where David and a raft of siblings were recorded as present but precious little else.
There was no official census taken in 1831, in which Janet might first have been recorded, born, as she was, on the 19th August 1825 exactly a decade and a day after her future husband. However, the Rev. Charles Cloustonn was evidently a data-fiend and carried out his own sketchy Sandwick census in 1833. [Orkney Archives D3.357] Below are some entries from page 9. D3.357 is mostly a loose list of names without ages and only occasional references to relationships such as ‘wife’ or ‘son’. He sometimes used curly brackets to indicate spouses. There are no names for individual properties and only occasional names of township, Aith being one example. The original page 9 has two main columns, entries in which are sometimes subdivided by additional names with no indication of relationship. This is confusing but relevant to the entries for George Groundwater and James Irvine below. My great-great grandmother, Janet Irvine's parentage is problematic. It follows that my maternal great-greeat-great grandparents are also problematic. The likliest conjecture, supported by information from a member of the Orkney Family History Society [OFHS] is that her father was James Irvine, who subsequently married Margaret Corigal [see below] who was not her mother, and for reasons unknown did not marry Catherine Johnston who was her mother and recorded by Rev. Charles Clouston as resident with George Groundwater, as does the next ‘official’ census in 1841. In 1851 George Groundwater is recorded as a “widower” in a different property but minus Catherine Johnston whose whereabouts then are a mystery. Both James Irvine's and George Groundwater's entries in Rev. Charles Clouston's census have names added alongside those of the principal occupants with no indication of relationship. “Another” is as it appears in the original document.
|John her Son|
We are back on firmer ground with the next official census for Sandwick taken in 1841 which lists Sandwick area 3 as “composed of the Townships of Yesnaby, Sutherquoy, Unigar, Hartisgarth, Upper Aith, Newgar and Lower Aith.” I have never seen on any map Upper and Lower Aith. Unusually for Orkney, ‘our’ Irvines, including Janet, had a flirtation with -ing as the terminus to their name rather than the more usual -e.
|3/57||Chamber of Aith|
Meanwhile, a considerable dispersal of the Windywalls, sometimes Windywaas, Linklaters had taken place. Peter and Helen, now on their own, continued living at Kirbister. Helen is referred to as ‘Helling’ in my copy of the census. Whether this is an error in the original enumeration or in the transcription from microfilm I do not know. Of David, who would have been about 25, there is no sign. In fact I have found no David Linklaters of any age in the Stromness 1841 Census, and in general David appears not to have been popular as a christian name.
The Sandwick 1851 Census splits Aith, placing part in area 3: “consisting of the Townships of Newgar, part of the Township of Aith, Hestwall, Tenston and Wasbuster.” and part in area 4: ”consisting of Skaill, Southerquoy, part of the Township of Aith, Yescanabie, Voy and Lyking.” The aim, for practical survey purposes, seems to have been to arrange each area to contain roughly the same number of people. Janet's father, James Irving [sic], together with his wife Margaret née Corigal and their 7 children Margaret, Isabella, Mareon, James, Matilda, Jamima and Anne all emigrated to Tuckeresmith, Huron, Ontario, in 1842 taking their -ing with them. Ther remaining Sandwick Irvines returned to their senses and henceforth spelled their name with an -e. David Linklater, formerly from Kirbister, having been absent from the Stromness and Sandwick censuses in 1841, pops up again in 1851 with his feet firmly under Janet's table. His birth-place is given for the first time as ‘Stromness’, but this must signify ‘the parish of’ rather than the town. From 1851 marital status was also recorded; here, m = married, um = guess!
|1||David||HARVEY||Head||m||M||61||Farmer 16 acres||Sandwick|
|1||David||LINKLATER||Head||m||M||35||Shoemaker Master employing 2 men||Stromness|
|4||James S.||LINKLATER||Son||M||0||(5 months)||Sandwick|
|1||Sibella||IRVINE||Head||Widow||F||80||Farmer 14 acres, 1 lab||Stromness|
|2||Sibella||IRVINE||Daughter||um||F||46||Employed on farm||Sandwick|
Again, the Sandwick 1861 Census splits Aith placing part in area 3: “consisting of the Townships of Newgar, part of the Township of Aith and Hestwall, Tenston and Wasbister [sic] including Clumly and Hurtisgarth.” and part in area 4: ”consisting of Skaill, Southerquoy, part of the Township of Aith, Yescanabie, Voy and Lyking.” Only one property in Aith was recorded; the occupants of the school remained roughly the same as in 1851. I am fairly certain that Caroline Linklater, recorded as a servant, must have been the seventh of nine children born to David's half-brother John and his wife Ann Thomson. Caroline was born in 1847, and died in 1893. There is only one Caroline Linklater recorded in the whole of Sandwick for 1851, living at 4/31 Oldvoy with father John, aged 48 farming 10 acres, mother Anne [sic] aged 38, and siblings Margaret aged 15, James aged 12, Jacob aged 9, and William aged 7. The Caroline recorded there however was stated to be aged 4. She would not have been in the 1841 census, but her family were recorded living at 5/15 Kirbister and John, aged 35 described simply as “farmer.” Given that Caroline's birthplace is given as Stromness - again, presumably the parish, I need to check the Stromness 1851 census for other potential Carolines, but I do not currently have a copy. Work in progress etc. but the Kirbister connection is interesting. For now, on with the show. The 1861 Census recorded the highest population in modern times; 32,225. Since then every census has seen a population decline till the nadir of 1971 and a population of 17,077 recorded. Thereafter the numbers have recovered slightly, hovering each side of the 20,000 line.
And that was James Stevens Linklater's last appearance in an Orkney Census. His parents continued to live in Aith. In 1871 the census reunited Aith in area 3 as follows; “consisting of the townships of Newgarth, East and West Aith, Hurtisgarth, Hestwall, Tenston and Wasbuster [sic]” By this time, Helen Linklater was married and living at Howaback which is about 3½ miles north-east of Aith at the northern end of the Loch of Harray in the township of Hourston. I shall include her household as the potential source of our only direct relatives still living in Orkney. James Stevens Linklater had moved to Leith; what became of Jannet is a mystery, leaving just Barbara unfledged. Only one property is recorded in Aith; the School, previously recorded in Aith, is not mentioned, but may be the same as that now recorded 3/5 Schoolhouse as part of Newgarth. Also in Newgarth is 3/9 Cott of Aith. I have not identified this property, but it was occupied by Hugh Harcus, a tailor, and Jane his wife, aged 43 and 50 respectively. As they were ‘furriners’ from Orphir and Firth I omit them.
|1||Peter||WISHART||Head||m||M||33||Farmer of 90 acres of which 50 are arable||Sandwick|
|5||Ann||SPENCE||Servant||um||F||18||General domestic servant||Sandwick|
|1||David||LINKLATER||Head||m||M||55||Farmer of 40 acres||Stromness|
For 1881 the Sandwick census gives the Parish Details including Aith as follows: “3 - Sandwick. Part of the Civil Parish and School Board District of Sandwick and part of the Quoad [sic] Sacra Parish of Stenness which latter includes the Wasbuster District of the Parish of Sandwick, consisting of the Townships of Newgar, East and West Aith, Hurtisgarth, Hestwall, Tenston and Wasbuster.” Hellen or ‘Ellen’ as she was now recorded, and Peter had been busy. Their home at Howaback remained part of the township of Hourston. By this time Janet was entirely alone. Her husband David had died under somewhat mysterious circumstances just a couple of miles from where he had first drawn breath; “on the evening of Friday the 16th of October  between 6 and 7 p.m. on the Public Road leading from Stromness to Sandwick in the Parish of Stromness and about 1½ miles distant from Stromness.” [Quotation from his death certificate.] ‘1½ miles distant from Stromness’ is about level with the H of Stromness Parish on Thomson's map - see page dealing with Aith. Janet and David's youngest daughter Barbara, the only one of their children recorded as still living at home in the previous census, had sadly died of consumption in Edinburgh. James Stevens Linklater was the informant [witness] on her death certificate. There were now 4 properties recorded in Aith. The Cott of Aith appears to have vanished along with its occupants; there are no records for Harcus in the 1881 Sandwick census.
|3/23||Aith Post Office|
|1||John||STOCKAN||Head||m||M||45||Merchant and grocer||Sandwick|
|4||John G.||STOCKAN||Son||Widow||M||0||(2 months)||Sandwick|
|5||Caroline||WISHART||Daughter||F||18||General domestic servant||Sandwick|
|5||Mary Ann||DICK||Visitor||F||20||Farmer's daughter||Stenness|
In 1891 the Sandwick Parish Details were identical to those above for 1881 save that only East Aith was named, with no mention of West Aith. Hellen continued to drop her aitch as well as her guard with Peter as attentive as ever. Janet acquired an extra ‘n’ in her name but, apart from being ten years older, continued much as before.
|10||Eliza Ann||PEACE||Servant||F||16||General domestic servant||Sandwick|
Parish Details for Sandwick in 1901 were identical to those for 1891. Some new abbreviations were introduced: M for Married and S for Single; under ‘Occupation’ E = Employer; O = working on Own account; W = Worker [presumably someone employed]; H = working at Home.
|3||Jane J.||WISHART||Daughter in Law||m||F||32||Sandwick|
|4||John H.||WISHART||Son||S||M||24||House carpenter (W)||Sandwick|
|5||William H.||WISHART||Son||S||M||20||Mason (W)||Sandwick|
|3/16||Aith Post Office|
|1||Janet||LINKLATER||Head||Widow||F||75||Post Mistress (W)||Sandwick|
|2||David||WISHART||Grandson||S||M||17||Post Runner (W)||Sandwick|
Sandwick 1911 Parish Details were simply stated as “Sandwick”. Janet died where she had spent the whole of her life, in Aith, on 17th September 1902 and thus does not feature in the 1911 census. With her death our last direct link to Orkney was severed. Her grandson, David Wishart, one of at least seven of Helen's sons, was the informant on Janet's death certificate but come the 1911 census there is no sign of him in Sandwick. He and his six brothers were my great uncles. In the 1911 census Howaback appears as two properties for the first time. A Howaback Cott had been recorded once in 1871, with a single occupant; Ann Wishart, born in Sandwick 71 years previously was the unmarried ‘head’ of the household and a ‘stocking knitter.’ Thereafter Howaback Cott was not recorded. I include the occupants of both the Howaback properties enumerated in 1911. Some further refinements in census recording were introduced. Each house had the number of rooms with windows recorded e.g. Howaback (3 r/w) had 3 rooms with 1 or more windows. Married women also had the length and ‘output’ of their marriage noted e.g. Jeannie Wishart's marriage of 10 years, with 4 children of whom 3 were surviving to show for it appears as (Mar: 10y,4,3).
|2/65||Howaback (3 r/w)||Position||Status||Sex||Age||Occupation||Born|
|2||John H.||WISHART||Son||S||M||34||Real estate agent, own account||Sandwick|
|3||Thomas A.||WISHART||Son||S||M||21||Ironmongers assistant, Worker||Sandwick|
|2/66||Howaback (3 r/w)|
|3/16||Aith No 1 (2 r/w)|
|1||Georgina||FINDLATER||Head||S||F||36||General servant (Domestic)||Sandwick|
|3||William||LINKLATER||Son in Law||M||M||26||Cattleman, worker||Harray|
|4||Mary A.||LINKLATER||Daughter||M||F||23||(Mar: 1y,1,1)||Stromness|
|6||Ruby J.||LINKLATER||Grand Daughter||F||1||Sandwick|
|3/17||Aith No 2 (4 r/w)|
|3/18||Aith No 3 (4 r/w)|
|1||Peter||BRASS||Head||M||M||40||Carpenter, own account, at home||Sandwick|
|2||Mary A.||BRASS||Wife||M||F||42||(Mar: 10y,2,2)||Sandwick|
|5||Margaret||LINKLATER||Mother in Law||Wid||F||79||Government pensioner||Sandwick|
|3/19||Aith No 4 (2 r/w)|
|1||William||HOURSTON||Head||M||M||25||Joiner and fisherman, own account, at home||Evie|
Thereafter we have been “strangers in a strange land”, condemned to the ignominy of being ‘tourists’ or, even worse, ferry-loupers.
© 2018 Duncan Linklater Custos Rotulorum.