There is little detail of Patrick's early life. He is likely to have been born at Airy in Stronsay around 1710. He married Barbara Traill, the daughter of James Traill III of Westove and his first wife, Barbara Fea who was the daughter of James Fea V of Clestrain and Barbara Traill. The elder Barbara Traill was the daughter of Patrick Traill of Elsness in Sanday and Elspeth Pottinger. Patrick Fea II of Airy was, of course, a great grandson of James Fea III of Clestrain while his wife, Barbara Traill would have been a great granddaughter. Fea \ Traill genealogy can get a little complicated at times.
In the early 1740s, he was appointed factor to Sir James Stewart for his South Ronaldsay and Burray estate. Sir James was a staunch Jacobite and a principal in the Pundlar Process but died of fever, possibly typhus, in Marshalsea Prison, London in 1746, while awaiting trial for his part in the '45.
Patrick Fea II of Airy was likewise an ardent Jacobite. In the last week of March 1746, he crossed to Caithness to meet Lord McLeod at Thurso and on the 30th wrote to Sir James to give him the latest news and to warn him that weapons and ammunition aboard the Providence should be protected in case the warship, which was at Tongue on the north coast of the Scottish Mainland, were to sail to Orkney.
George Traill of Hobbister, when under examination in connection with the Pundlar Process, was asked whether the pursuers were involved in the rebellion of 1745. He responded that he had not heard that any were..
|..attached to the Jacobite cause excepting James Fea of Clestrain [VI] and Patrick Fea of Airy; the first he had heard called a Jacobite, the other he had heard was in the Rebellion, but for all that does not believe he is a Jacobite, and that he neither knew or heard that any of the pursuers had any accession to, or supplied the late Rebellion with men or money - the above Airy excepted.
The Real Captain Cleveland (1912), Allan Fea, p188-189
While Patrick Fea may not have been directly involved in the Rebellion, his Jacobite sympathies and close association with Sir James Stewart of Burray lead him to go into hiding after the defeat of Prince Charles Edward Stewart. This was in some sea caves some two or three miles from Airy, between Burgh Head and Lamb Head. Charles Goar, a servant, carried food daily to his hiding place. It is said that on one occasion at the top of a flood tide, Patrick had gone to a wrong cave. As the water came up, he had climbed higher up into the cave. Eventually, he came across a nail driven into the rock and suspended himself from that to keep his head above water until the tide turned. The water rose well above his waist. The story goes that he had his Burgess ticket and a prayer book with him and that they thereafter showed the water stains of their immersion. Charles Goar was to receive, afterwards, the small farm of Hescombe, near Airy in recognition of his service in providing for his master. Other Orkney lairds had gone into hiding in sea caves in Westray, one which is still called Gentlemen's Ha.
Lady Kitty Cochrane, the Countess of Galloway presented Patrick with a silver snuff box in 1748, inscribed to him. At this time, he was still factor at the Burray estate, which the Earl of Galloway had inherited following the death of his cousin, Sir James Stewart Of Burray. The snuff was later in the possession of his daughter, Barbara Fea. Barbara also had an old Jacobite bible which had belonged to the family and on the fly leaf was inscribed "gifted to me, Barbara Fea, by her uncle James Stewart of Brugh." The book is described as having "James" substituted for "George" in the various services and also for the Prince of Wales. "Clementina" was substituted for the "Queen" meaning "Clementina Marie Sobieski" the wife of Charles Edward Stewart.
Patrick Fea and Barbara Traill had six daughters:
The baptisms of five of the daughters are recorded in the IGI and all six are mentioned in "The Diaries of Patrick Fea of Stove 1766-1796" (1997), edited by Wm. Hewison. David Scott in the second part of his article on "The Fea Family of Orkney" appearing in "The Orcadian" of 1st April 1971 also lists a son, Patrick Fea. The "Memorandum as to the Family of Fea" in the National Archives of Scotland (GD 263\54) mentions a son Charles Fea "who died in nonage." It is thought that this memorandum was completed some time prior to 1832, possibly 1827.
Only one of the daughters of Patrick Fea and Barbara Traill were to marry.
Patrick owned a townhouse in Kirkwall situated in the middle of what is now Shore Street. It only gets mentioned once in the diaries in 1795, when he was considering selling it. When he was in Kirkwall, he spent his time visiting friends and business associates.
Patrick died in 1796 and the surviving daughters, Helen and Barbara, returned to Airy in Stronsay.
The property in Shore Street was still there and owned by his surviving daughters in the early 1800s. It along with other properties formed a trust fund set up by the sisters for educational and parish needs for the people of Stronsay. Helen was the last surviving sister and died in 1818.
There was a private Chapel at Stove in Sanday. A letter from William Henry Fotheringham to the married sister, Elizabeth Fea (Mrs David Erskine), tells of how it fell into ruin.