Barbara Fea

Barbara Fea (b. 1689) seems to have inherited the rather fiery temperament of her father.  She was also a persistent individual.

While still very young, her cousin Patrick Traill of Elsness (b. 1679), who was the eldest son of John Traill of Elsness in Sanday and Helen Stewart was sent over to Stronsay to manage the farm of Housby, which Patrick had recently bought.

Patrick was pursued by the young Barbara Fea.  This may have been a little one sided at first for he was later to write "what I did I swear I was obliged to do or otherwise I'd have been afrunted!"  Intimate relations took place, which lead to a daughter:

Patrick sought to distance himself by heading off to Edinburgh, where despite being over the age, he was completing his education.

Barbara, showing the spirit of her father, followed him to Edinburgh with a packet of love letters. She had Patrick arrested and imprisoned. He was only release once he had put into writing a verbal promise of marriage.  No further ceremony was then necessary under Scots law.  On his release, Patrick headed off to London where he joined the navy.  Following a time at sea, he moved to Ireland where he married.

The existing "marriage" to Barbara Fea was to prove a contentious issue as Patrick was the eldest son and would inherit the estate of Elsness in Sanday in due course.  Litigation on this became one of the longest running law suits in Scotland, rumbling on long after the death of the principal parties.

Barbara took to styling herself "Lady Elsness, younger" although the Traill family wouldn't acknowledge the marriage or any inheritance.  Patrick inherited Housby and would have been expected to return and reside there.  On the basis that she considered that she had a right to take possession, Barbara tried but this was denied.  Details are given in a witness statement of a servant from the house.

Patrick Traill of Elsness Snr did his best to ensure that his daughter in law, could not benefit from the inheritance which would go to his eldest son but Barbara was persistent in the pursuit of her claim and in 1717 it was held that the rights of the eldest son could not be set aside.

The runaway husband did briefly turn up in Orkney with his wife, while on a trip from Ireland to Norway. They stayed a few days at Elsness and were well received by the Traills as evidenced by a letter from his brother, David Traill, to their sister on 7th July 1719.  The letter does give further insight into Barbara's temperament and relationships with the Traills.

Patrick Traill died in 1726 and his brother David in 1730.  David was the next eldest son to John Traill of Elsness and Helen Stewart.  Their father was still alive.  David's wife and heir, who was Barbara's niece, now got involved in the litigation.

David Traill had been married to Elizabeth Baikie, the daughter of Rev Thomas Baikie and Elizabeth Fea, Barbara's sister.

Patrick Traill Snr accepted, before he died in 1734, that his son Patrick and Barbara Fea were married although "in a manner verie singular and extraordinary."

Barbara was living in Kirkwall in 1735 and still claiming her rights. She moved to South Leith where she died on 30th March 1737.   She was buried in Greyfriar's Kirkyard.