Upper Burness was a cottage high up in the valley of the Burn of Castlehill above Wasbister. In 1851 it was occupied by 73-year-old farmer William Craigie and his family.
Burness, lower down the hill, was also a cot-house of Langskaill. In 1841 it was where worsted weaver Hugh Gibson and his family lived. In 1792 Hugh was one of twin sons born out of wedlock to David Gibson of Langskaill and Barbara Craigie of Burness. Hugh married Janet Marwick of Quoys in 1813. In 1814 he married another Janet Marwick, then living at Cogar. They had four children, Jean and Bella, who were born at Newark in Wester in 1815 and 1821 respectively, and James and William, born at Geo, Westness in 1825 and 1828. Hugh then married Margaret Harcus and they had two children, both born at Geo, John in 1834 and Mary, in 1835.
Hugh Gibson, his father David, and his uncle Alexander, were each married three times.
In 1851 Hugh and Margaret Gibson were joined at Lower Burness by their daughter Jean and her family. She was married to David Johnston of Heatherhouse, Sourin and they had three children: Margaret, Bella, and John. On November 19th 1843 Jean married Gilbert Craigie, a fisherman, of Turbitail and they had seven children, though three of these died at an early age. Gilbert died in 1882 at the age of 62 and Jean passed away in 1892, in her 77th year.
Ten years previously Upper Burness was added to Langskaill and William was classed as a sub-tenant, paying 10 shillings a year rent. William was the son of Thomas Craigie and Robina Marwick of Onzibist, Egilsay, and in 1822 he married Charlotte Gibson, daughter of Hugh Gibson and Janet Inkster of Skatequoy, who was born in 1794. They had six children: William, born on November 8th 1823; Thomas, on September 27th 1825; Janet Inkster on December 12th 1827; Hugh on April 20th 1830; James Gardner on July 6th 1832; and Mary who was born in 1837. - William Craigie died in 1862 at the age of 84 and his wife Charlotte died in 1874 in her 80th year.
At the time the 1901 census was taken Burness was occupied by farmer James Alexander and his wife Sarah Ann Marwick. James was the son of Magnus Alexander of Cairn and Margaret Inkster of Deithe and he was born in 1854. Sarah Ann was the daughter of Hugh Marwick of Quoys later Whitemeadows, and Mary Inkster of Innister, and she was born in April 1862. Living with them at Burness was Sarah’s 16-year-old son James Smith who was employed as a blacksmith’s apprentice and her 20-year-old brother Magnus who was classed as ‘feeble minded’.
James Alexander and Sarah Marwick of Burness c1920
Photo courtesy of Tommy Gibson