Cogar was a farm in the middle of Wasbister, known in 1503 as Calgir. It was occupied in 1733 by William Craigie, in 1740 by Gilbert Craigie, and 1799 by George Marwick.
William Inkster was born in 1799. In 1827 he married Rebekah Marwick of Negar, near Falquoy, and they had two children, William and Margaret. In 1851 they lived at Cogar, 19-year-old William helping his father on the farm and 17-year-old Margaret helping her mother in the home. By this time they had another son, 11-year-old John, who attended classes at the nearby school.
In 1861 there were three families living under different roofs at Cogar. Firstly there was the afore-mentioned son William Inkster, now a 29-year-old, farming the 19 acres, his wife Mary Gibson and one-year-old son William, and Isabella Kirkness, a 15-year-old domestic servant. Between 1860-1879 Mary was to produce ten children, three of them dying in infancy.
The inscription on a tombstone in the Wester kirkyard reads as follows:-
Erected in loving memory of John Inkster, Cogar, born 11th May 1863, died 20th September 1864. Robert G. Inkster born 3rd April 1869, died 6th September 1878. Alexander M. Inkster born 8th October 1873, died 5th August 1878, beloved children of William and Mary Inkster.
“Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
William Inkster, now a 61-year-old retired farmer, still lived at Cogar with his wife Rebekah. The third family was headed by William Craigie, a 40-year-old general merchant. He married William and Rebekah’s 20-year-old daughter Margaret in 1853, and between 1854 and 1875 they were to have seven children. William Craigie was a fisherman, working for the Hudson Bay Company in his younger days, and with his savings he set up a shop a Cogar.
In 1873 the extent of the land at Cogar was 43.9 acres, for which farmer William Inkster paid an annual rent of £16. When the census of 1891 was carried out he and his wife Mary were still living at Cogar, as was their son David, now a 29-year-old fisherman, with his wife Isabella Sinclair and children Annabella, William and Lydia. Oldest son William, now 31 years of age, had married Jean Learmonth of Innister, and they had three daughters, Lilla, Annie and Ruby. He married a second time, to Sarah Folsetter of Dale, Evie. William, who was Fire Master in Aberdeen, was known as ‘Fiery Bill.’
A number of years ago Robert C. Marwick heard a news item on the radio to the effect that the government was scrapping the requirement for people who brewed ale at home to have a licence to do so. It was stated that in the previous 12 months only 495 licences had been issued in Scotland, 492 of them in Orkney. He did not know whether this surprising statistic indicated that Orcadians had a greater fondness for home brewed ale than people elsewhere, but he did not know a single Rousay person, let alone 492 in Orkney as a whole, who would have let the need for a licence stand between him and the brewing of a kirn of ale.
Quite a lot of brewing went on in Rousay when he was a boy, and he once heard a Wester worthy remarking after a drink of ale, ‘Man, that stuff’s both meat and drink.’ His mother brewed once a year, in time for the peat cutting. It must have been thirsty work for several dozen bottles, carefully packed in a bushel measure, were taken to the hill on peat-cutting day. Bobby of Cogar was said to brew a very potent ale. It was claimed to give those who drank it what in modern jargon is called a ‘high,’ but they invariably discovered later that Bobby’s brew also produced a ‘low’ in the form of its highly unpleasant purgative effects!
Upper Cogar was where 40-year-old farmer William Inkster and his family lived in 1841. In 1827 William married Rebecca Marwick, daughter of William and Elizabeth Marwick of ‘Heatherhall, Wasbyster,’ and later at nearby Negar, and she was born in 1797. They had four children; John, born on October 26th 1828, William on August 14th 1831, Margaret on June 5th 1833, and another John on September 11th 1840.
The youngest John married Janet Craigie, daughter of Alexander Craigie and Ann Murray of Falquoy, who was born on October 7th 1838. They had one child, a daughter Margaret, born on January 26th 1866. She later married Hugh Craigie of Turbitail, and was known by one and all as ‘Maggie o’ Deith,’ having moved to the croft of that name further up the hill.
John’s second marriage was to Betsy Marwick, the widow of John Marwick of Essaquoy. When the census of 1881 was carried out they were living at Upper Cogar. John was a 40-year-old fisherman, Betsy was 35 years of age, and by that time they had three children; Elizabeth, born in 1873, John, born in 1875, and James, who was born in 1877.
Maggie and Hugh Craigie – a photo taken in the late 1800s. Maggie was born and raised at Upper Cogar. She married Hugh Craigie of Turbitail, and they later settled at Deithe. [Photo courtesy of the Craigie family]