Houseby, Stronsay

A witness statement given by one of the servants gives details of how Barbara Fea tried to take possession of the house of Housby in Stronsay, following its inheritance by, her husband, Patrick Traill of Elsness.  This starts of with a visit in May 1706:

Barbara Fea did one night come to the house of Housby, about eleven o'clock at night, having a little boy riding before her; and having desired a bed for that night from Elsness's principal servant, she granted the same.  And next morning the deponent saw the same Barbara Fea take the key of the room wherein she lay from Elsness's principal servant by violence, having beat the said servant maid, and desponses that Barbara Fea did likewise take the key of the outer door of Housby; despones that the said Barbara did stay at Housby till about two of the clock the next day, and then went away with her boy and took the keys with her.

That in the month of July the same year, 1706, the said Barbara Fea did come back to the dwelling house of Housby, when Elsness' servants were in the fields at work, and despones that Elsness having caused take off the locks, whereof the said Barbara had formerly taken away the keys, and put on new locks.

The said Barbara did break open one of the windows of the said house of Housby with an hammer which she brought along with her; despones that he did not see her strike at the window, but saw the window after it was broken, and saw her go in thereat with the hammer in her hand, and then she broke off the lock of the outter door and did put another lock thereon, and did also break open the other locks of the house.

That the said Barbara Fea did stay at Housby two or three days and as many nights at that time, and that John Traill's wife and servants were likewise in the said house with her all the time she was there at that time.

That he heard her call herself mistress of Housby, and said she was married to young Elsness and further "that she was dispossesst by vertue of a warrant from the Stewart of Orkney, and that his officer came and took her by the arm and led her to the door*".

*Examination in presence of the Lord Anstruther, Edinburgh, 21st December 1768
The Real Captain Cleveland (1912), Allan Fea, p206-208

It should be noted that the witness statement refers to Barbara Fea having a little boy riding before her.  The servant clearly mistook the sex of the child for it was a daughter which was born to Barbara and Patrick Traill.