Shetlopedia - The Shetland Encyclopaedia
At Edinburgh, the Privy Council received a supplication by John, Bishop of Caithness, and George, Bishop of Orkney, as follows: - "The pitifull and deplorable estait and conditioun of the People within the countreis of Caithnes and Orkney, of whome that great multitude by famine have miserablie perished this yeere, hes moved the supplicants out of thair bound dewtie and Christiane commiseration of thair calamitie to represent to the said Lords the desolatioun quhilk in these bounds is like to fall out if some present course be not tane for preventing the same. For this last harvest, before the cornes wer fullie rypped and cutt doun, suche tempestuous and bitter weather blew frome the ocean upon these parts that the cornes wer so blasted as they never filled, and what seemed to be filled did na wayes answer the peoples expectatioun, the boll of aittis in manie parts not giving ane peck of meale, and where there appeared to be ane chalder of beir the same did not render the fourt part to be seed; quhereby the thrid rig lyeth unsowin and in manie parts the halfe is not sowin; quhilk hes caused so great dearth and famine in these parts that multitude dee in the opin feilds and there is none to burie thame, bot where the minister goeth furth with his man to burie thame where they ar found. The ground yeelds thame no cornes and the sea affoords no fishes unto thame as formerlie it wount to doe. The picture of death is seene in the faces of manie. Some devoure the sea ware; some eate dogges; some steale foules. Of nyne in a familie seven at once died, the husband and the wyfe expyring at one tyme. Manie ar redacted to that extremitie that they ar forced to steale and therafter ar execute; and some have desperatelie run in the sea and drownned thameselffes. So great is the famine there that the people of meane estait have nothing and these of greater ranke have nothing that they can spare." They crave that their Lordships would grant their letters of recommendation in favour of these poor people. This the Lords do, and recommend "the pitifull and deplorable estait of the poor people in the countrie of Orkney and Zetland to the charitable consideratioun of his Majesteis Privie Counsell," the Senators and members of the College of Justice, the provost, bailies, council and community of Edinburgh, and all other well-disposed Christians within the kingdom to burgh and land; also to the inhabitants of Caithness, and sheriffdom of Aberdeen and parts benorth the same, exhorting thame to extend their charity and benevolence to the relief of these poor people.