Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Carrick House, Eday, Orkney

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Orkney! Magical word. When I was a tiny tot, my brother and I had the 'imaginary world' that so many children of our pre-television generation did. Being practical little boys, we had to situate our land somewhere in the real world so .. we looked at the big map on John's bedroom wall, and we chose the most far-off (from New Zealand) place, and we peopled it with our characters -- Maureen Pitchfork, Quasilda Harrington, Mr Prick --- and spent many an hour there, organising sports events ...

The unlikely, doubtless uninhabited, isles that we chose for our kingdom, were in that never-neverland north of the bundaries of the civilised world, north of Scotland where grandma and grandad came from ... the Shetlands and the Orkneys ...

A year or two later, when we were adults of 12 and 8, and childish games and lands were behind us, we smiled that, someday, we would go there and see those islands. Well, I never did. I never got further north than Kincardineshire. But John did. Thoroughly. He has even had an opera (The Iris Murders, mus: Alasdair Nicolson) produced there, was Festival Poet for the Orkney Festival, and got unofficially (we don't go in much for 'official') married there, with Viking trimmings we could not even have imagined, back in the 1950s  ...


So, even though I have never been there, Orkney has still a place in my life ...

And yesterday I came upon this photo. Real people from Orkney. So, since they were named, I thought I'd just check them out ..


Two sisters. Clara and Louisa, child named Eva, and doggie unnamed. But both ladies are labelled as being surnamed as HEBDEN née RANKEN. Both? Surely the inscriber has got muddled. But no, these sisters married brothers ...

Louisa Ann RANKEN (b Kirkwall, Orkney 11 April 1852; d Carrick House, Isle of Eday, Orkney 19 August 1900) was the elder of the two ... I wonder which one she is, above ... Clara Isabella RANKEN (b Kirkwall, Orkney 1857; d 22 Ann Street, Edinburgh 7 June 1934) was five years younger. They were the two younger daughters of Bryce MacMurdo Ranken and his wife Janet Young née Pollexfen. Mr Ranken was a solicitor and, I see, procurator fiscal for Orkney. Their brother, Thomas, would become the island's sherrif

Their husbands were, respectively, Harry Cawardine HEBDEN (b Ely Grange, Frant, Sussex x 15 January 1842;  d Carrick House, Eday 5 August 1901) and Alfred Charles HEBDEN (b Ardpatrick House, Loch Fine, 14 April 1850; d Nairn 1892), younger sons of Robert James Hebden and his wife, Caroline Hester née Walker. Robert Hebden of Carrick House, was Orkney aristocracy: 

Robert James Hebden, Esq introduced sheep-farming on a large scale into Eday with much success, his flock being composed of Cheviots, which thrive well on the island. He further improved a large extent of land around his residence in the NE part of the island, and built a commodious farm-steading, with water-driven machinery. 

By chance, Louisa had drawn the prize: The two eldest sons of R J Hebden predeceased their father, so when the 'laird of the manor' died in 1877, it was no 3 son, Harry, who had been trained for the sea
and travelled the world as a youngster, who inherited Carrick and its 7500 acres. Alfred Charles, described as a 'civil engineer' settled in Nairn, where this photo was taken ... when? Some time in the 1880s, I imagine. The child, Eva, should date it .. but ...
Louisa had five children: Florence Hester, Ethel Muriel (died age 22), Hildred Louise (d age 19), Harry Hamilton (Major) and Douglas James Ranken Hebden ... their lichen-eaten gravestone can be seen, with Cawardine and Louisa, and others of the family, in Eday cemetery 


And Clara? Well, the family historians have a big blank after Alfred and Clara ...  so I simply don't know. Whose baby are you?

This tale doesn't end here. As I always do, I followed up, and what did I find ...


'These' was a bundle of freshly-taken family photographs. Sent by 'C H H'. No date. Well, C H H seems surely to be mother Caroline Hester Hebden, matriarch of Carrick House, rather than her daughter Caroline Harriet Hebden ... but .... here we have the family, who have had a photo party at the studio of Mr J W Jackson of Burntisland... alas only two are labelled ... (and there is no trace of the corn plaster)


The 'gate' also features in this one, which is labelled as Arthur Hebden ...


Then we have Edith [Eleanor] STEWART née HEBDEN, wife of William Stewart (m 1876) ...


Then:




So, no doubting that that the Matriarch in the middle ... and then ... five of her ten children?  Three, plus father, by the 1880s are dead, leaving 
Harry Cawardine (1843-1901)
Frederick William (1844-1931)
Caroline Harriet (1846-1925, Mrs Duglas MacColl)
Edith Eleanor (1848-1928, Mrs William Stewart)
Alfred Charles (1850-1892)
Arthur (1851-1932)
Henrietta Fanny (1853-1927, Mrs T W Leisk Spence)

The boys don't look old enough ... but we know Edith and Arthur are there ... so that must be Henrietta in the front, and the photo must be 1870s ... what a shame mamma didn't date her wee lost-and-found note! 

Carrick House, Eday

Ah me, that's as close as I'll ever get to Orkney ... but it was nice 'visiting' ...






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