Feas of Clestrain
\ James I
\ James II
\ James III
\ Patrick Fea I of Whitehall
\ James Fea II of Whitehall
Dr James Fea
(James Fea VIII of Clestrain)
James Fea was left an orphan in his teens. His curators, Patrick
Fea of Airy
and a Mr Manson (probably an uncle as his mother was Jean
Manson), placed him as an apprentice to a surgeon. While he appears
to have discontinued his studies, he did complete them in later life.
He does not appear to have been entirely happy with the handling of his
|No notice was taken of my affairs till the year
I chused my curators, who put me an apprentice to a chirurgean , and
in pursuit of my employment I was advised to go abroad and leave my affairs
to the management of my curators.
Petition to the Sheriff Substitute of Orkney
26th October 1749
The petition referred to a disposition by his father, James Fea II of Whitehall,
to his sister Barbara to his prejudice as male heir.
James served as an ensign under the Earl of Effingham and was present at
the seize of Minorca in the early stages of the Seven Years War (1756-1763).
He transferred to the 73rd Regiment of Foot, serving as a lieutenant. The
Regiment was sent to Carrickfergus in Ireland.
He met and married Ann Corbet
, the marriage being at St. Clement
Danes Church, London on 21st July 1759. She seems to have had a lively temperament.
Shortly afterwards, the Regiment was sent to France.
James inherited the estate of Clestrain from John VII of Clestrain
on John’s death in 1760. While this had been increased by the lands
brought by James Fea VI
of Clestrain’s marriage to Janet Buchanan
, the litigation including the Pundlar Process
and the Burning
of the house of Sound
in Shapinsay in reprisal for James Fea VI’s
Jacobite sympathies had much reduced this. John Fea VII had inherited
the estate upon his brother’s death and having no legitimate heir, the estate
passed to John Fea as a second cousin. This was burdened with debt.
James had and continued to have financial problems.
John Fea and Ann Corbet had a son born in 1762 as evidenced by the Matriculation
Book for Trinity College, Dublin.
, sizar, aged 22 years, son of James, centaur [officer or lieutenant],
native of Limerick, 2nd place at entrance, educated by Dr. Craig, tutor
Matriculation Book, Trinity College, Dublin (1784)
From “The Real Captain Cleveland” (1912), Allan
Fea - p222
With the scaling down of the forces at the end of the war, James apparently
retired from service and took his wife home to Orkney for the first time
in 1764. Strangely, she found this dull and made a run for it without
telling anyone, getting The Alarm cutter from Kirkwall to Belfast.
Captain Gordon was the commander of the vessel and was in no hurry to get
to Belfast and anchored for a few days in Dunvegan Bay. Anne Corbet
spent lavishly the money which she had brought with her, having borrowed
from trusting people in Orkney. She left the captain’s company in Belfast.
seems to have been a particularly colourful character. She and James
Fea divorced on 18th July 1770.
On James’ return to Orkney following apparent retiral from the army
in 1764, at the end of the Seven Years War, he seems to have entered the
navy as a surgeon. A letter from Rev David Covingtree of Newark, Sanday
to the sisters, at Stove in Sanday, of James VI and John VII of Clestrain
refers to funds due to James Fea VIII out of the funds due to him out of
the lands of Sanday “belonging to your brothers, formerly, and now Mr James
Fea, surgeon in Kirkwall.”
James Fea had throughout continued to have financial problems. The
will of John Fea VII of Clestrain provided for the sisters to have a life
rent of part of the estates. They permitted him to stay at Carrick
in Eday, rent free.
Various objections were made including the money which had to be paid to
the illegitimate sons John Fea VII of Clestrain, Henry and Alexander
. Answers to some of these objections from the sisters at
Stove give some indication of what happened to the property.
The lands in Shapinsay, including the ruins of the house of Sound, were
taken over by Andrew Ross. This included the arrears of rent on that
In 1771, objections were finally overcome to allow the sale of Carrick
in Eday and this was sold to Robert Laing and some of the proceeds of this
were used by James Fea to purchase a house in Kirkwall in 1772.
James had married Grizel Ross
on 26th December 1771, some eighteen
months after his divorce from Ann Corbet. The children which they
had is not known for certain however:
- James Fea is said to have been a son and apprenticed to
Dr Hugh Sutherland of Kirkwall. He left Orkney in his teens
- Henrietta Fea
, married William Sutherland, the son of Dr Hugh Sutherland of Kirkwall.
In 1775 James Fea published a book or dissertation entitled The Present
State of the Orkney Islands Considered, and an Account of the New Method of
Fishing on the Coasts of Shetland. This was published at Holy-Rood House,
Edinburgh. As the place was at the time a sanctuary for debtors, this
may say something of the state of his finances and perhaps indicate that the
sale of his properties may have been insufficient to cover the debts inherited
in with the property in 1760.
In March of 1775, the Treasurer of Holy-Rood House started proceedings
against him. In a letter to James Spence of Kirkwall, the instructions
were to “poynd all Mr James Fea’s moveables and household furniture and
the caption against him to be put to immediate execution.”
Mr Spence is also informed that any delay in following these instructions
and it will be taken for granted that he is conniving with the debtor.
One does wonder if the Mr Spence is related to William Spence, who married
, the sister of James Fea VI
and who had managed the affairs of the Feas for so long.
James’ fortunes may have improved. He certainly embarked upon another book
with his Considerations on the Fisheries in the Scotch Islands being published
in London in 1787. This was printed for the author in Dover where he was
living at the time.
His name appears in December 1793 in the first list of surgeons to be published
in “Steels Navy List”. It last appears in that list as at April 1796.