William Fea

William Fea, the son of James Fea and Margaret Murray went to North Ronaldsay, the most northerly island in Orkney, where he became a teacher.  He doesn't appear in the Sanday census until he returned to the island upon his retiral.

He was the island's first resident school master and also the longest serving.  He started around 1835 and was staying at Holland at the time of the 1841 census.  William Fea combined his duties as teacher with those of scripture reader, postman and registrar for most of his working life.  He retired around 1874.

William Fea married twice. His first wife was Margaret Muir, whom he married on 31st May 1848, in the island.  She was also born in Sanday although one wonders, with the Muir surname, that she did not have North Ronaldsay connections.  They had a family by the time of the 1851 census.

1851 Census - Schoolhouse, North Ronaldsay
William Fea Head Aged 37 years Schoolmaster b. Sanday (Cross)
Margaret Fea Wife Aged 37 years b. Sanday (Burness)
John Fea Son Aged 2 years b. North Ronaldsay
William Fea Son Aged 1 year b. North Ronaldsay
Eliza Kelday Serv Aged 15 years b. North Ronaldsay

William Fea was a strict disciplinarian and was unremitting in his teaching of the bible and the three Rs.  He made good use of the tawse to stamp his authority on his pupils.  The ablest did well and by 1850, he had turned out almost a dozen pupils who could write in almost copperplate style.

The school was in the south end of the island.  Going to and from the school could be a long and unpleasant journey. The young children in the north end of the island were not considered  able to make the three mile trudge to the  south end until they reached the age of seven and therefore they started school a year later than the "southenders" and others nearer the school.  In the winter the children were often soaked long before they reached it.

The school had a peat fire for heating and each scholar had, in turn, to take a peat to school to burn.  The fact that the children had to rely upon goose quill pens and odd bits of paper did not hinder some of them from doing well.>/p>

William Fea and Margaret Muir had three children:

Margaret Muir must have died around the time of the birth of Janet Fea or shortly afterwards.  Certainly William married a second time in 1853.

Jane Millar was William Fea's second wife.  They married on 10th September 1853.  Jane was born in Kirkwall on the mainland of Orkney.  The marriage took place in Sanday.  There were no further children by this marriage.

William and Janet Fea continued to live in North Ronaldsay until William's retiral as schoolmaster.  They can last be seen in the 1871 census.

1871 Census - Schoolhouse, North Ronaldsay
William Fea Head Aged 58 years Schoolmaster b. Sanday
ane Fea Wife Aged 59 years b. Kirkwall
Janet Eliza Fea Dau Aged 19 years b. North Ronaldsay
Sarah Swanney Serv Aged 49 years . b. North Ronaldsay

William became known as "Auld Fea". With retiral, he and Janet Millar moved back to William's birthplace of Sanday, where they were staying at Roadside at the time of the 1881 census.  Their daughter, Janet Elizabeth Fea moved to Sanday with them, as did Sarah Swanney who was still with Janet Fea (nee Millar) at Roadside in Sanday in 1891.  William must have passed away previously.

These were the only Feas to be recorded in the North Ronaldsay census.