In Hiding After The '45

Following the failure of the Jacobites, a number of the Orkney lairds went into hiding, fearing retribution from the Hanoverians.  These included William Balfour of Trenaby in Westray.  When William Balfour and his companions returned to Orkney around 7th or 8th May 1746, James Fea of Clestran did not return with them.

James Fea's actions in negotiating with the "Pretender", inviting recruitment for the Jacobite cause in Orkney and accompanying them when in Orkney laid him open to retribution and also the resentment of the Orcadians.  He stayed in Caithness, in  disguise, on the estate of William Sinclair of Freswick although he may have visited the Lumisden's in Edinburgh.

Government officers drew up a checklist of evidence \ accusations to pursue him:

(1)  Supported and toasted the prince
(2)  Recruited men for Charlie
(3)  Volunteered to help Ardloch to forcibly present men for the Pretender
(4)  Gave arms from his mansion in Shapinsay (Sound) to the rebel's in Orkney
(5)  Trying to recruit by promising tacks, etc. to men such as Hugh Gunn, to Irvine of Tankerness, Thomas Cumine in Grain, James Davy in Rennibister, and commissions to such as Thomas Alexander
(6)  Bullying John Baikie to reserve a seizer of brandy for the rebels and in fact sending it to them by sea
(7)  Plundering sheep from the Calf of Eday, taking sheep, cattle, wood and coal from Sound and Elgerholm
(8)  Destroying evidence of Sound when the troops entered it
(9)  Harbouring defeated rebels at Sound
(10)  Threatening to stab or cut the throats of Collector Smith and Thomas Rendall for refusing to drink toasts to Charlie
(11)  Encouraging the rebel Highlanders to come to Orkney
(12)  Absconding from Orkney after Culloden until the Act of Indemnity
(13)  Failing to appear for questioning before Mr Moore
(14)  Threatening Mr Rose for sending casks of beer and supplies to the King's troops at Strathnaver
(15)  Paper from the Pretender, claiming knowledge of the Orkney grievances and promising Orcadians redress and that Claistron.... "insisted with the Prince that what men should be raised in Orkney should be for ever after called the Orkney Regiment".
(16)  "Examine Thomas Balfour about communing betwixt Claistron and him about his engaging that he would be made an officer and that if the Orkney men did not embrace this opportunity of being made free the Prince would see they wanted to continue to be slaves (presumably to the Earl of Morton!) and that they were slaves and by God should continue to be so....and him and Thomas Mackenzie about Claistrain's communing with Mrs Mackenzie wherein she charged him with having brought over the Highlanders to Orkney and that thereby he did more harm than good to their cause as they would not get any men from Orkney....
(17)  Befriending the rebels in Orkney
(18)  Joining the rebels in Thurso and promising support - although he had an argument with Sir James Stewart over the leadership
(19)  Being in the Pretender's camp
(20)  "What about Claistron's enquiring and wanting from Kirbuster an exact account of what men might be fit for the Pretender's service in Stronsay and desiring his "bu" in the said matter and what other communing might pass betwixt them on the subject or anything, lending loam, aiding or abettment of the Rebellion"
(21)  Employing Thomas Loutit as an intelligence officer to keep watch for the "Sheerness" Man-at-War to see whether any troops were preparing to disperse the rebels in Kirkwall
(22)  Having treasonable practices
(23)  Writing inflammatory letters - although not signing them
(24)  Being seen in Caithness by William Sutherland, apprentice to Thomas Dishington, wig-maker and barber in Kirkwall
(25)  Leaving arms at the Ayre for the rebels

From Tales of An Orkney Island (1987), Wm. Gibson, pages 59 & 63-64 

The dangers of staying in Caithness where there were increased searches for Jacobites and the lack of any action from HMS Scarborough and HMS Glasgow, which were in Orkney waters, probably led to William Balfour, Patrick Fea of Airy and others to head back to Orkney.   There were certainly rumours of twelve Jacobite fugitives fleeing northwards through the isles by 8th or 9th May 1746.

While James Fea did not receive even a token imprisonment, retribution did come through the burning of his house at Sound in Shapinsay.  He returned to Orkney after the Act of Indemnity but did not make an early appearance in Kirkwall.  This may have been as much to do with possible resentment of the other Orkney lairds than the actions of the Mortonians. He was certainly back at Sound, in Shapinsay, on 1st July 1747 as he signed a receipt acknowledging that he has received thirteen guineas sterling from his brother, John Fea and mentioning £33:17 that John had previously sent to him in Caithness.

Isabella Lumisden continued to write from Edinburgh with the news and barely hidden Jacobite sentiments.