Bishop of Orkney’s lands in Caithness
Sources
RSS I (1000) 1503
RMS III (2882) 15423 on original of 1539
Books of Assumption 15615 (J. Kirk, (ed.), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices, Oxford, 1995) pp 418, 4201, 655, 657, 668, 670, 680
RSS VII (988) 1577
RMS V (2281, 2287) 1593
RMS VI (803) 1598, (1038) 1600
RMS VII (409.2) 1610 on original of 1583
GD96/354 1610
RS37/3/292r 1626
Peterkin III pp 1011, 2124, especially ‘Demands by the Toune of Edinburgh and Answers therto, with what Instructions I can remember concerning ye Bischoprick of Orknay’ c. 1642
Peterkin IV p 27 1642
Laing Charters (281517) 1683.
Peterkin V p 31 <=1754
Henderson, J., Caithness Family History, p 17
Old Lore Miscellany of Orkney, Shetland, Caithness and Sutherland Vol IV Pt 1 1911 pp 1719: ‘The Bishopric of Orkney. References to Lands in Caithness’. By Roland St Clair.
Lands  Parish  Extent  Source  Comment 
Dunra + mill (now Dounreay)
8d land of Dourne + mill + Strybustar (Schabustar) 16d Drumray 16d of the 24d of Donraa ⅓ of Dounreay on west side of river + quoys + mill 16d (⅔) of Dunra on the N. side of the river Reay Doun (Reay) Total Dounreay = 8d + 16d = 24d 
Reay 
8d 16d 16d 8d 16d 
RMS III (2882) 1539
Books of Assumption Books of Assumption RSS VII (988) 1577 RMS VI (1038) 1600 RMS VI (1038) 1600 Peterkin III p 23 ff Peterkin IV p 27 1642 
Set in feu for £11 6s Set in feu for £30 *
NB rents p 352
Fewdewtie £24 Pays yearly £236s8d 
Schabuster (now Shebster)
Strybustar (p 657) Skubster (p 670) – J. Kirk thinks it is Scrabster (Thurso); I think it is Schabustar (Reay). Schabuster Schabester Shebister Not named but rent implies (with Tubeg below?) 
Reay  RMS III (2882) 1539
Books of Assumption
RMS VI (1038) 1600 Peterkin III p 24 Peterkin IV p 27 1642 Peterkin V p 31 <=1754 
See above with Dounreay
‘Fewed’ with Towbege Pays £1118s With Tubeg pays £11 pa £11 

Broubustardaill + fishing (now Broubster?)
Brubister Browbisterdaill + fishing Browbusterdaill + fishing 
Reay  RMS III (2882) 1539
Books of Assumption RSS VII (988) 1577 RMS VI (1038) 1600 
* 

Bowartour (now Bowertower)
Superiority of the lands of Bowartoun Bowertower Buertoure Borvur Rortor 
Bower 
7d 
RMS III (2882) 1539
RSS VII (988) 1577 RMS V (2281) 1593 RMS VI (1038) 1600 Peterkin IV 1642 Peterkin V p 31 <=1754 
£28 £28 
Acro (now Halcro)
Halcro Halcro, Hesticro, mill of Seytir Hacra with pertinents, viz. Setir, Quhiddiker & Crocequa, + Hostecrow mill and its croft, milllands etc 
Bower 
3d 3d 
RMS III (2882) 1539
Books of Assumption RMS V (2287) 1593 RMS VI (1038) 1600 
Set in feu for £4 & 6 b. meal 
Thuro (now Thura)
Furro/Furay Thura Thuro 
Bower  RMS III (2882) 1539
Books of Assumption RSS VII (988) 1577 RMS VI (1038) 1600 
* 

Lune
Lumay/Lunay Bowerlune Lune 
Bower  RMS III (2882) 1539
Books of Assumption RSS VII (988) 1577 RMS VI (1038) 1600 
* 

Skat silver of Dunnet & Canisbay
Scatsilver Skaitsilver of Dunett & Cannesbie ** Skat silver of Dunnet & Canisbay Skat silver of Dunnet & Canisbay 
RMS III (2882) 1539
RSS VII (988) 1577 RMS VII (409.2) 1583 RMS VI (1038) 1600 GD96/354 1610 
£416s pa
£416s 48s x 2 = 96s = £416s £416s pa 

Skat malt of Dunnet & Canisbay
Scat malt Skaitmalt of Dunett & Cannesbie ** Skat malt of Dunnet & Canisbay Skat malt of Dunnet & Canisbay 
RMS III (2882) 1539
RSS VII (988) 1577 RMS VII (409.2) 1583 RMS VI (1038) 1600 GD96/354 1610 
27 bolls
27 bolls 13 bolls 2 firlots x 2 = 27 bolls 27 bolls 

Scats of Reay & Dunnet
Scats of Reay & Dunnet 
Peterkin IV p 27 1642
Peterkin V p 31 <=1754 
Pays yearly £8
£8 

1½d of Hayland (now Halland?)  Dunnet  1½d  RMS VI (1038) 1600  Formerly belonged to provost of cathedral church of Orkney 
Daill  Halkirk 
6d 
RMS VII (409.2) 1583
GD96/354 1610 

Tubegg
Towbege Tubeg & Shebister (see above) Not named but rent implies (with Schabuster above?) 
Reay  3d  Laing Charters (281517) 1683
Peterkin III p 24 Peterkin IV p 27 1642 Peterkin V p 31 <=1754 
Fewed with Schabester above Pays yearly £11 £11 
Domirall (possibly a corrupt form of a name above)?  Peterkin V p 31 <=1754  £22 
* Books of Assumption pp 655, 657 Brubister, Furro/Furay and Lumay/Lunay were lumped with the 16d of Dounreay.
** RMS VII (409.2) 1583 gives some important extra detail about this skaitsilver and skaitmalt. It does not seem to have been exacted from every farm in each parish.
In Dunnet the farms taxed were Ratter, Hambres, Corspak, Ham & Barrak.
In Canisbay the farms were Dungasbie, Cannasbie, Seatter, Gillis and Waris.
This raises questions about the ownership of these lands.
RSS I (1000) 1503 shows the Bishop of Orkney held properties in Caithness well before the Reformation. Why?
Peterkin III pp 2223, c. 1642, gives some reasons:
p 22
There lands are bot small. The haill duetie of yame all is bot about fourtie pundis. They hald of the bischoprie, bot littill partiallis of land, serving for the bischoppis sugejourneying yr quhen it is stayed at Pentla Firth.
(Their lands are only small. The whole duty of them all is only about £40. They hold of the bishopric, only little parcels of land, serving for the bishop’s sojourning there when it is stayed at the Pentland Firth. [i.e. when the weather prevents the ferry from crossing between Caithness and Orkney]).
p 24
Nota. Thair is sundrie lands in ye parochin of Halkrick, halden in blensch of the Bischops of Orknay, for service in convoyeing thame throw ye cuntrie of Caitnes, in qlk infeftments yr is several uther conditiones; ye most pairt of yr lands in possession of the Erle of Caitnes, and some in ye possessione of the Laird of Tackingae.
(Note. There are various lands in the parish of Halkirk, held blench of the Bishops of Orkney, for service in conveying them through the country of Caithness, in which enfeoffments there are several other conditions; the most part of their lands are in the possession of the Earl of Caithness, and some are in the possession of the Laird of Toftingall).
The above obligations suggests that the bishops travelled by land, not sea, and that they took the inland, and not the coastal route.
One of the properties was Hesticro. This placename incorporates two Norse elements: hestr (horse) + kró (pen). Travelling south required horses so it makes sense that some of the Bishop’s mainland properties provided horses.
The Bishop directly owned at least 36d (6 davachs) in Caithness.
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