Patrick Fea I of Whitehall

A letter written around 1805 or 1806 from Barbara and Helena Fea to Patrick Neill gives some indication of the early life of Patrick Fea.

Patrick Fea of Whitehall, your great great grandfather was second brother to James Fea of Clestrain.  After receiving a learned education, he was sent abroad to make his fortune.  He commanded a Frigate in James VII’s time.  He was frequently in France but was never studying there and was likewise in Rotterdam.  After making some money, he returned and to his own country and  lived in that very house where you took of the Initials of his and his wife’s name.

From Orkney Archives D14

Patrick married Barbara Traill, the youngest daughter of Thomas Traill of Holland, the marriage contract being dated 7th August 1667 with a pledge to wed before 1st November of that year. Thomas Traill undertook to pay a dowry of 1,000 merks Scots.

In documents around this time  Patrick Fea is referred to as Lieutenant Patrick Fea.  Shortly thereafter, he acquired the farm of North Strenzie in Stronsay and the house of Whitehall. It was on this that Patrick Neil found the inscription “P.T. B.T. 1671”.

Patrick Fea and Barbara Traill had a family of four sons and three daughters:

Dr Hugh Marwick, in his paper “The Feas of  Clestrain” (1932) mentions only two daughters, Kitty being the one of whom nothing is known. This third daughter is mentioned in David Scott’s article on the Feas in The Orcadian on 1st April 1971.

Patrick Fea was a particularly volatile individual with a temper to match as can be evidenced by some of his appearances in court .  On one occasion, when in church, the minister rebuked him for allowing his servants to “bear burdens” on the Lord’s Day.  Patrick “did most contemptuously rise up and publikly upbraid” the minister, Mr Cobb, with the advice that he should neither judge him nor his family.

He was capable of kindness as evidenced on 9th June 1865 with his giving refuge to Wm. Cormack, a servant of Rev John Wilson, who was being evicted from “a small house called St. Margarets Kirk upon the lands of Clestrain.”  The minister was three years in Stronsay and married at that time to Patrick's sister in law, Isobel Traill.  Isobel Traill had been married to Patrick’s brother, James Fea IV of Clestrain and had married Rev John Wilson, after the death of her first husband.  The minister and his wife were suing the Cormacks and Patrick Fea wrote on their behalf to Patrick Murray, Stewart Clerk, to show how Cormack had been abused by the minister.

Patrick was also involved in a dispute over the non payment of taxes.  However, on 7th January 1700 the Lord’s Commissioners  discharged and exonerated him for non payment of the Superior Duties of Strynie and Airy for the five previous years. This followed their hearing a report, certified by the Stewart Depute of Orkney.  From the sworn evidence in that report, it appears that in 1694 Patrick and his sons were chased out of the island by Robert Elphinstone and a great band of men that he had mustered and who carried off the crops and cattle.   For the following few years all the lands of Strynie and most of Airy had been without labour and the cott houses were empty.  This was why Patrick had withheld his taxes.

Patrick seemed to be able to alienate most people.

Three years prior to his death, he granted the tack of North Strenzie to his second son, Patrick Fea of Kirbuster.  He reserved three rooms for himself on the upper floor of the house of Whitehall.  Patrick Fea I of Whitehall died around 1709.