Introduction / The Island / Island Life
Rent in the old days would have been paid largely in kind as there would have been little opportunity to sell produce for cash. This would have been paid to James Stewart of Brugh in Westray, the Stewart Family owning Pharay until it passed to the Stewart Endowment.
In 1802, the rental for Pharay was £24 10/- Scots with additional payments of malt, butter, bere meal, geese and hanks of spinning wool from the sheep on the Holm. Cabbages had to be grown for the laird in quoys, the remains of which can be seen. The tenants had to transport the produce to Cleat in Westray.
There were difficulties that year in meeting the quotas set by the Stewarts for butter, which left hardly enough for use on the island. Payments might be made by work on the laird’s own farm but Westray was too far away to make this a practical proposition. Hence, deficiencies had to be made good by suppling hanks of the spun wool.
There is a story of Robert Groat (c. 27th Aug 1803) of Lakequoy taking produce to Westray. It was a windy day and they had to reef in. On meeting the laird in his small yacht, Robert is quoted as saying to the other tenant who was in the boat with him to shake out the reef and they would give the old beggar a race. They flew past, landing before the laird. When he arrived and the sacks were opened, the laird told them that the corn wasn’t properly dressed and they were told to go back to Pharay and redress it. When they returned another day, the laird wasn’t there and there was no problem. It’s questionable whether the corn was redressed.
In later times the rent was paid half yearly and dealt with by MacRae and Robertson, solicitors as factors. These were paid in May and November. In 1895, there was an accident on the way back from having put the factor’s clerk over to Westray, which involved loss of life.
In the 1930s and 1940s, rents were still paid twice yearly to MacRae and Robertson on behalf of the Stewart Endowment.