Home Contacts
Main Sections:
Westray Grays
Papa Westray Grays
Eday Grays:
    John Gray
    Margaret Gray
Barbara Allan:
    Westray Allans

Site Maps:
Westray Grays
Papa Westray Grays
Eday Grays
    John Gray
    Margaret Gray
Westray Allans

Related Websites:

Other website:
The Glasgow Orkney and Shetland Benevolent Society

Papa Westray Grays
William Gray and Mary Robertson

William Gray was the oldest (known) child of William Gray and Barbara Allan, and was christened in the parish of Westray and Papa Westray on 18th January 1806. According to the census records of 1871 and 1881, which distinguished between the two islands, he was born on the island of Westray, not on Papa Westray.

William married Mary Robertson (born 1798, daughter of William Robertson and Isabella Gray) on 21st December 1824. They had seven children:

  • William Gray, born 23rd June and baptized 6th August, 1826.
  • David Gray was born 23rd September 1828. He married Ann Harcus and had 6 children.
  • Jane Gray was born 17th December 1835, and christened on 17th July 1836. She married James Tulloch, and had 5 children.
  • Mary Gray, born 16th December 1839 and christened 10th March 1840. She was listed in the 1841 census, age 1 year, but apparently died within the following year, since the next daughter was also named Mary.
  • Mary Gray, christened 26th June 1842. She married John James Logan Foulis, and had 5 children.
  • John Gray was born 10th August 1845 and christened 25th October 1846. He married May Keldie, and had 8 children.

From the first census in 1841, to the 1871 census, the records indicate that William spent his life as a farm servant on Papa Westray, working for the Holland estate. In the 1841 and 1851 censuses, he and his family were living at Holland.

Holland No 11

Age Born
William Gray 35 years Orkney
Mary Gray 40 years Orkney
Isabella Gray 15 years Orkney
Jane Gray 5 years Orkney
Mary Gray 1 year Orkney
Isabella Gray 70 years Orkney

By 1861 they were at Newhouses (which replaced the Holland farm servants' housing), and they were still there at the time of the 1871 census.

Newhouses No 4

Relation Age Occupation Born
William Gray Head 66 years Farm Servant Westray
Mary Gray Wife 73 years Domestic Work Papa Westray
Isabella Gray Dau 45 years General servant Papa Westray
Mary Gray Dau 29 years General Ag. work Papa Westray

In 1881 William (whose age was given as 73 years, although he was actually 75), his wife Mary, and their unmarried daughter Isabella were living at East Dykeside (also known as Quarryhouses), and William's occupation was "formerly farm servant".

There is a gap of more than 7 years between the births of David and Jane, which is unusual in families of that period. One possible explanation is that there were some stillborn children. Another possibility is that William was away working somewhere else, where he couldn't get home even for visits for several years. Perhaps he was a seaman before he settled down and became a farm servant, sailing on the long-distance routes, for instance to India and Australia. The Hudson's Bay Company had many Orcadian employees at that time, but the HBC Archives has no record indicating that he was working for the HBC.

Mary Robertson died on 4th January, 1884, at Quarryhouses, Papa Westray. William Gray died 7 years later, on the 12th January, 1891, at Vola, Papa Westray, the home of his son John. On William's death registration form his father's name is given as John, but since other records, in particular the record of William's baptism, indicate that his father was another William, this is likely just a mistake on the part of the informant (his son John). Mary and William were probably buried in St. Boniface churchyard, Papa Westray, but there is no stone there for them.

Printer Friendly Version Return to top of page