Virtual Vault Rev James Wallace's Description of the Isles of Orkney, 1684 (MS)
Chapter 6


Chapter 6th
off the Accidents that have
fallen out in this Countrey

Severall remarkeable accidents have fallen out in this Countrey, besides some alreadie mentioned and others to be mentioned in the following Chapters.  I shall onlie instance in three or four qroff the witnesses are still alive.  About the year 1634 when Bishop Graham wes Bishop of this Countrey, a young Bay named William Gairack his father being dead hed some litle land and some small portion of catell left him be his father int he parish of Ham.  His Uncle took him in his service and haveing a greedie desyre after the young man’s land and cattell, it hapned that he stole about a setten of bear from his Uncle for which he persewed him befor the sherrif off the Bishoprick.  And the Boy  (att that tyme about eighteen year of age) the thift being proven, wes sentenced to be hanged.  When he wes upon the ladder, he prayed that God wold inflict some visible Judgment on his Uncle, who because off the greedie desyre that he had after his litle portion had for so small a mater procured his death.  Itt cam to pass some tyme after, that this Uncle walking thoro the Kirkyaird of Kirkwall, just upon the young mans grave the Bishops dogg seized upon him & tore out his throat, whereby he becam a sadd monument of Gods wreath against such impious greedie wretches                                                           some


Some years agoe one James Lenay with some others, Fishing in a Boat besyde Auskerie, a a fair day, itt cam to pass, that by reason of their leaning all on one side of the Boat that it overturned & all wer drouned, except the said Lenay, who by providence gott up & satt on the keell of the Boat: in which Condition he continued for the space of four dayes, driven by the tydes sometym this way, sometym that sometym to Westra sometym back again to Stronsay, till at last he wes espyed flotting by Spurness in Sanda, where by the Carefull endeavor of ye Gentleman who wes ouner of the ground, he wes delivered.  A memerable example of Gods Providence in delivering people from almost desperat hazard.

There wes on John Smith who lived (as I am informed) in Stronsa, who with three others  used to fish not farr from the land.  There way wes to rise earlie & to stay manie hours upon the sea fishing.  This man haveing by severall dayes fishing, got no a great plentie of fish, his wife wes desyrous that he wold omitt that exercise for a tyme & stay att home & take his rest.  He wes unwilling to doe so qrupon nixt morning shee rises befor him, & being desyrous that he might take a lairger sleep after so manie dayes disquietment, shee stoped the holes & windows of the rowm qr he lay that he might sleep the more soundlie.  And then went to the fields to her work, where working with her servants, she wes surprised with this sadd accident.  The three men that used to fish with her husband, because he came not, hed taken the Boat themselves & done a fishing,and suddenlie (no man knows how) the                                                                                               Boat

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Boat overturned & they all drouned.  This the woman & her servants seing it startled them greatlie, But sheethos shee wes greeved for their death, yet wes inwardlie verie glaid that her husband (throgh her policie) went not sea with them, & thereupon she runs haistilie to ye house to acquant her husband with sadd accident & to congratulate with him for his preservation: when opning the door shee wes again surprised with a more sadd and astonishing sight, even the death of hir oun husband: for he haveing risen out ofhis bed had fallen with his head in the vessel whein they used to make urine, qr he wes choaked & found dead.  This wes a strainge & sadd accident, and may learn us, quod est inevitabile fatum yt there is no shuning of Death which God hes appoynted for us.

Strainge are the effects that are heer sometym produced by thunder & lightning: for by it anno 1670 our steiple wes burnt yea and sometym itt will burn low cottages & stacks of corn.  About four year agoe after a great thunder in the moneth of June, there fell great flakes of Ice more then a foot thick and the same year the fire slaught  entred a Gentlemens Byre where wer twelve kyne standing side for side, as they use to be & killed evrie other one, that is, itt killed the first & missed the second, itt killed the third, & missed the fourth & so of the rest.  So that six wer killed & six remained alive and untucht.                                                                                          Chap 7

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