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James Fea V of Clestrain

James Fea V of Clestrain was born around 1663 or 1664 for on 17th October 1685, when giving evidence at the trial of his uncle (Patrick Fea I of Whitehall) for an assault on John Traill, his age is given as "22 years or thereby". 

He spent some time working in a lawyers office in Edinburgh.  A receipt survives, dated 22nd May 1683, for the payment of 100 merks Scots to Lawrence Oliphant, Writer to the Signet, for providing James Fea with board and liberty "to stay and writt in my writing chamber" for the next year.

He married Barbara Traill, the daughter of Patrick Traill of Elsness and Elizabeth Pottinger, on 25th March 1686.  Barbara was a first cousin of James Fea's mother, Isobel Traill.

Saturnsday, at 7 of the night, Jaes. Fea of Claistrane wes contractit to Barbara Traill, eldest daughter of Patrick Traill of Elsness, this being the 27 Febry. 1686.

Thursday, the 25 March 1686, James Fea of Clestraine was married to Barbara Traill, eldest laufull daughter to Patrick Traill of Elsness.

The Diary of Thomas Brown 1675-1693  (1898) - Edited by A Francis Stewart

A dowry of 1,500 merks Scots was paid by Patrick Traill.

They had a large family of two sons and seven daughters.

  • James Fea VI of Clestrain
  • John Fea VII of Clestrain
  • Barbara Fea, who married James Traill of Westove on 5th December 1712
  • Margaret Fea, who married William Spence , a Kirkwall lawyer who acted as advisor to the family
  • Elizabeth Fea
  • Helen Fea
  • Isobel Fea who was baptised on 28th January 1687
  • Janet Fea who died on 12th March 1772
  • Ann Fea
             Elizabeth, Helen, Isobel, Janet and Ann never married.

James Fea is said to have built or to have repaired the chapel at Stove in Sanday.  This was described as a gothic structure with a nave and chancel and a vaulted roof supported by fourteen pillars.   This became the burial place of the Fea family.   Above the door of the chapel was inscribed "Keep they foot when thou goest into the house of God."

The owner of Stove was an Episcopalian and his actions were not looked kindly upon in a time when the government were determined to exterminate Episcopalianism in favour of Presbyterianism.  It was discovered that a play had been performed at Stove and that the minister of the parish of Cross and Burness, in that island, had been involved. The minister was described as being "light in conversation particularly at a feast at Stoave in company with others of having entered into a play, and his part was to stand up upon a seat above the rest with his eyes, mouth and nose blackened and to cry - with hands held up, "who would have or kiss me now?"

The children were taught by a private chaplain.  This  comes to light due to a Petition presented by John Spence, Master of the Grammar School in Kirkwall, to the Burgh Council in 1711.  In reply to the charge brought against James Fea for neglect of duties, we learn that  he "had only been a residenter in Kirkwall since Lambas last, and so cannot be said to have sent his children out of Kirkwall, because he kept them at home with a chaplain in his own family in the isle of Sanday."

James Fea probably died in 1729 or 1730. No Episcopalian minister was available at the time of his death and the service had to be taken by a Presbyterian.  This minister was unfamiliar with the procedure and dropped the prayer book into the grave.  Word was sent to his wife for instructions and she indicated that it should be buried along with her husband.  However, in the  meantime someone had rescued it with a pair of tongs.

Life was less prosperous in 1745 although an Episcopal clergyman still officiated at the chapel who was in sympathy with the Jacobite tendencies of the Fea family.   On one occasion, he was perhaps over enthusiastic  and expressed himself in a manner which could have been disastrous for the household.  In his sermon, he blended politics to the effect that Divine strength would always support the just side and that he had a firm conviction that the Stewart cause would win.

While the elderly Lady Clestrain was a Jacobite at heart, she had to be sufficiently cautious and thus, to make a suitable demonstration, walked out of the chapel followed by her five spinster daughters.

Barbara died on 11th October 1747,  at the age of 81.

The chapel fell into disrepair as can see seen from a description in a letter from W H Fotheringham to Mrs Elizabeth Erskine (nee Fea) sometime prior to 1832.

The chapel which formed the burying place of the Feas is in an entirely ruinous state, the walls being mostly level with or within one or two feet of the ground and where highest they do not rise above five.  The field in which it is, is enclosed but the chapel itself is without any kind of fence round it to prevent the cattle from pasturing in it or otherwise to preserve the burial place from contamination.  The walls appeared as if part of them had been recently torn off from them and I am afraid from the dilapidation which has been made and seems now to be taking place, the intention is to remove every vestage of the chapel, destroying its very remembrance and convert its site into pasture.

National Archives of Scotland GD 263/106

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