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Introduction / Westray Grays / George Gray and Margaret Seatter / George Gray and Jean Reid / Robert Gray and Christian Harcus / Barbara Gray and John Rendall

Jean Rendall and John Meil

Jean Rendall, the daughter of John Rendall and Barbara Gray lived at Banks in Westray with her parents and worked as a farm labourer.

In August 1889, at the age of forty two, she married John Meil from nearby Cott of Cleat, the son of John Meil and Jane Logie. John was the widower of Jane Harcus and had two daughters by this first marriage: Jean Meil (b. circa 1876) and Rebecca Harcus Meil (b. 3rd February 1880). Rebecca stayed with Jane Rendall and John Meil at Cott, after their marriage.

Perhaps surprisingly considering that this was a relatively late marriage for Jane, they had two children of their own:

  • Davina Rendall Meil b. 22nd May 1890 who married James Scott, the son of James Scott and Elizabeth Allan.
  • Joan Meil b. 22nd July 1891. She worked as a dressmaker for the Hewisons at Beuth and then moved to Edinburgh where she married.

The Meils were evicted from Cott in the early 1890s by the minister who wanted the ground for his glebe. Some of the family went to Banks, near Jean's parents but John and Jean themselves went to Breckowall, where John worked for Murdoch Hewison. A new house had been built and the Meils were given a room on the ground floor of the old mansion house.

One room of the house was used as a grain store and rats were in abundance. An upstairs room was used as a meetinghouse for a religious group named the "Exclusives". Later, the Meils were given a further room upstairs.

When Jean Meil was fourteen, she was given a job on Murdoch Hewison's other property at Skaill in Aikerness. She could hardly refuse as that my have caused eviction of the Meils again. She wasn't a servant for long for in 1895 she married John Bews of Quoybirse, whose mother was a daughter of Murdoch Hewison.

On retirement in 1916, Jean (Jane) and John went to live with John's daughter, Jean Meil and John Bews at a small house at Quoybirse. Jean was not necessarily on the best of terms with her stepdaughter so they moved to the home of their daughter Davina Rendall Meil who in March 1920 had married James Scott of Newbigging.

Jean worked at dressmaking and John looked after the hens. Jean (Jane) Rendall died on 1st August 1928 at the age of eight one. John Meil died just over two years later on 22nd March 1931 at the age of seventy nine.

A gravestone records the deaths of both Jean and John, John's first wife and his daughter Rebecca Meil who died on 9th June 1927 at Quoybirse. Rebecca Meil didn't marry and acted as a maid to Mrs James Hewison at Waal Cottage.

John Meil
In Memory of His Beloved Wife
Jean Harcus
Born 3rd Jany 1850
And Died 3rd June 1881
Also Their Daughter Rebecca
Died 9th June 1927 Aged 47 Years
Also Jean Rendall
Beloved Wife of John Meil
Died 1st Aug 1928 Aged 81 Years
Also the Above John Meil
Died 22nd Mar 1931 Aged 79 Years

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