A More Enterprising Spirit - The Parish and People of Holm in 18th Century Orkney, by Sheena Wenham

A More Enterprising Spirit - The Parish and People of Holm in 18th Century Orkney, by Sheena Wenham

Published by Bellavista in 2001, 352 pages. Hardback with Dust Jacket (N6223)

Brand New Book

From the front inside fly leaf: Merchant lairds grew affluent on the proceeds of kelp in eighteenth century Orkney, while others in the population were beginning to emerge from centuries of widespread poverty and hardship. Though farming remained at subsistence level, new rural industries were starting to make their impact on Orkney, and for the first time there were opportunities to earn a small cash income in kelp or linen manufacture. A few months' work at the fisheries and whaling industries in the Davis Straits and Iceland also offered well paid seasonal employment. Many emigrants and sailors sent money home to their Orkney kin, and there was always money to be made from the black economy of smuggling.

Most of the population of the fertile parish of Holm and Paplay were involved in the successful linen industry that was promoted in the parish by the Graemeshall estate during the latter part of the eighteenth century. Holm people were known to be both enterprising and resourceful at this time, embracing any new opportunity to make a little money and thus improve their standard of living. It is their story that is made available to us through the wide variety of material that has survived in the Graemeshall papers. These records make it possible to investigate and explore many aspects of the life of this small, rural community in Orkney.

This book is a detailed study of the social and economic life of the parish and people of Holm. It is illustrated with episodes and incidents from the lives of a cross section of the community: Holm lairds and ministers, merchants and tradesmen, emigrants and naval men, farmers and crofters, kelp makers and linen workers, servants and cottars, including those who eked out a precarious living beyond the boundaries of the townships in turf huts built on rough hill land. It is these stories of individual lives that enables a clearer picture to emerge of what it was like to live in an Orkney parish during the eighteenth century at a time still well before the days of full-scale agricultural improvement.

Condition New