James Fea IV of Clestrain - Visit to North Ronaldsay

When James Fea went to North Ronaldsay to carry out the inventory of the possessions of Arthur Buchanan it appears that William Cogle, Buchanan’s baillie, refused to let Fea carry out the task and also forbade the North Ronaldsay folk from giving them food or shelter.  This even went to the state of locking the church and building up the windows.

It was a night of bitter cold and snow.  If it had not been for William Angusson, one of the party, seeing someone go into a barn for to feed his beasts and followed him, keeping the door open until the rest arrived, they might have died of exposure.  They procured a little sea ware and straw to make a light and sat round it but when Cogle heard this, he order Wm. Wassness (probably Westness) to throw water on it.

Next day, he refused to allow the court to take place and James Fea had to retire without accomplishing the task.  One does wonder if this could have affected his health as he died the following year.

An account of this is set out in a notorial draft instrument dated at North Ronaldsay on 17th March 1675.

Notorial Draft Instrument Dated 17th March 1675

“The quhilk day in presence of me Notar publict and hereinafter underwritten compeired personallie James Fea of Clastren, Commissar depute of Orkney speciallie constitute be James Murray of Penneiland Commissar principall of the samen anent the Inventaring of the moveable  goods gear and uthers belonging to the  deceast Arthour Buchannan of Sound, who past to the personal presence of William Cogle pretendit bayleiff of North Ronaldshey and there expound and declared that forsameikle  as he be his masterful bankstrie(?) lawles behaviour, malicious reproaches put upon his majesties laws obstinatlie withstanding the same despysing authoritie threatening the said Commissar deput and his members of court, charging and commanding the whole inhabitants of the said yland naither to give meat drink harbour guesting or housrowme to any of them for money or upon any other account quhatsomever as authentick instruments taken thereupon in itself at great length will make appear, wherethrow he the saidcommmissar deput with his said members of court ane great pairt of the night with strong frost and snow wandring from houss to houss cold and wearied all doors being shutt, none daring through the command put upon them to suffer them to enter so much as to shelter themselves under their rooffis from the vehemence of the cold and snow wherethrow they had almost sterved (i.e. died of cold) and undoubtedly would have perished had not been in their wandering they did espie ane man come forth out of ane yeard entrie to bring some meat from the barne to his beasts whereon (an) officer called William Angusson following after keept entrie open untill the rest cam in where they sheltered themselves that night under the said rooffe to the saftie of their lives and having purchast a little sea wair with a little staw to give them some light though no heat to sit by during the darkness of the night.  That the said pretendit baylzie commanded ane Wm. Wassnes to throw water thereon in the middle of them as they satt round about it.  And being demandit of by the said Commissar deput whey he so cruelly and barbarously used him and his members of court as being Christians much more as contrymen and most of all as clade with his Majestie’s authoritie Quherunto it was answered  by the said pretendit baylzie that he avowed all that was done and if they would not speedily remove themselves they should find worse dealing Because he held them as enemyes to hs masters interests Quherunto it was replyed by the said Commissar deput that give him but the key of the kirk doore that he might hold court at his officers returne conforme to the given and thereafter he should remove himself will all possible diligence wind and weather serving Quhernunto it was replyed by the said Wm. Cogle that he could expect no key from him for he had bigged up the kirk window as weell as he had locked the kirk doore And for compeirance there could be none for he had sent his officer along with the Commissars officer discharging ilk persone under the paine of ten pounds Scots to compeir Quherupon the said James Fea did enquire from the said Wm whether or not he had any such order from his master John Buchanan or not which if he would instruct he would decist, Quherunto the said Wm replyed that there was no judge competent in Orkney before whom the would instruct and commssione he had alledging what he did his master would answer before Counsel for it……….etc.”

[The draft is left unsigned]

The Feas of Clestrain (1932), Hugh Marwick
Proceedings of the Orkney Antiquarian Society Vol xi, pages 32-33