Introduction / The Island / History and Ownership
Archibald Stewart, the son of John Stewart of Brugh in Westray and Margaret Ballenden, married Isabel Balfour (contract dated 15th October 1724). The estate of Isabel Balfour's father, William Balfour of Pharay, thus passed to the Stewart family.
Archibald Stewart's great grandfather (Edward Stewart) was a natural son of Earl Robert Stewart of Orkney.
With the death of Archibald Stewart, the estate passed to his eldest son, James Stewart of Brugh. James Stewart was a strong Jacobite and hid in the cave that became known as Gentleman's Ha following the failed uprising in 1745. He died in on 16th April 1802. James married twice, first to Ann Traill and subsequently to Majorie Pollexson but had no children.
James Stewart of Brugh's heir was a nephew, also James Stewart (son of Balfour Stewart of Burness). He married Marion Strong, the daughter of James Strong of Leith on 21st October 1809 but died in Kirkwall on 6th March 1811. James and Marion only had the one son. He was again James Stewart and was to be the last James Stewart of Brugh, dying unmarried around 25th June 1858.
This last James Stewart by a trust disposition and settlement dated 11th June 1858 left the estate to a trust established largely for religious purposes. This was to be named the Stewart Endowment. Lands held in Fair Isle were sold in 1866 to John Bruce of Sumburgh. The lands in Westray, Firth, St Andrews and also the island of Pharay were transferred to the newly established trust in 1882.