RETURN to Folk fae da past

If a fisherman broke the Sabbath, by leaving for the haaf before midnight, or if someone was seen caa'in whales on a Sunday, this would result in serious charges against them with penalties imposed. One escapade that resulted in numerous men being brought before the Kirk Session happened in 1846, when the vessel Agenoria came ashore at Dog Geo, Tangwick. She had been en-route from Miramichi in Canada and was carrying a full cargo of wood. Now, for the folk of Tangwick and the neighbourhood, any timber coming ashore, was like manna from heaven, especially living on a treeless island. Hopefully the few, well hidden planks, made it easier to bear, when the men were accused and charged with plundering the vessel and as punishment were suspended from 'the Privileges of the Church' for six months. The Agenoria was taken to Hamar's Voe, where her hulk lay for two years before being broken up.

Among his many other responsibilities, Christopher Sandison was a Kirk Elder from 1820 and went on to be made Ruling Elder in 1856. He was factor to the Cheyne Brothers and also to the Gifford's of Busta. In 1855 he undertook to be Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths for Northmavine and he was also clerk to the Parochial Board and to the Heritors. A diligent, but also a compassionate man, Christopher took a keen interest in the destitute folk of the area and he personally distributed monies due, from the Fisherman's Fund and the Poor's Fund.

Christopher retired from teaching in May 1864 with a pension of £10 a year and moved to the Hoop Böd, along the shore from Otter Holm at Tangwick, where in 1870 he died aged 89. For over thirty-seven years of his life, Christopher Sandison had kept a diary and it is thanks to this chronicle of events, that some everyday trials and tribulations of the ordinary folk within this area can be appreciated and compared.

In 1878 a new school was built costing £900 with classroom space for 60 pupils.

Schoolhouse at Tangwick, Eshaness

The population of Eshaness at the time he returned was roughly 500 and the average school role ranged between 20 and 40 but in the years, 1830 and 1838 an amazing 75 pupils were registered.

Christopher Sandison took an active part in the community by wearing various hats. In August 1825 he was appointed as clerk to the Kirk Session and although serious crime in this area was rare, occasionally a charge of stealing or fighting would be brought before the Kirk Session.







Christopher Sandison was born at Stenness, Eshaness in 1781 and lived most of his life in Eshaness.

He was educated by John Clark at his school in Hillswick and he later married Betty Clark, his tutor's daughter, afterwards they lived for a time at Finlans in Hillswick. They had seven children. For three years before moving to the newly built Tangwick School House in 1820 Christopher was the school teacher at Urafirth.

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Ronald Sandison the great-great grandson of Christopher has written a book of extracts from Christopher's diaries called

Christopher Sandison of Eshaness (1781-1870) Diarist in an age of Social Change. ISBN 1-898852-26-X. Available from the Shetland Times, Lerwick.