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Re: Bews/Sinclair Orcadian link

Niven Sinclair wrote:
 At 07:13 14/07/99 -0400, you wrote:
>This is just a casual enquiry.Here in Melbourne the Bews and Sinclair
>families fellowship together.Since they're both old Orcadian names , I was
>curious if the two families have past historical links that are known to this
>chat group.
>Ross Sinclair
>[ This is the Sinclair family discussion list, sinclair@mids.org
>[ To get off or on the list, see http://www.mids.org/sinclair/list.html
The name of Bews does not appear in any of the papers in front of me, namely:

Peterkin's Rentals
J Storer Clouston's Records of Orkneys
The St Clairs of the Isles

but I have found references to Bews in another book called "The Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland"
by  Alexander Fenton from which I quote:

"In Orkney the change from the one-stilted plough to the two-stilted plough
  (at first the Highland type but increasingly the lowland Scottish type)
  progressed through the last decade of the 18th Century and had become
  almost complete by the end of the first quarter of the 19th Century.
  Traditions have been recorded about the introduction of the two-stilted
  mould-board ploughs with reins.  When the first came to the West Mainland
  of Orkney: "The late Hugh Bews, the grandfather of the present Mr James Bews
  of Yesnaby was hired to show the West Mainland people how to drive horses
  in a plough with reins and also the way to work a cupper or plough with a
  mould-board.  This man's plough had a wooden board because the wood was
  thought to be warmer for the ground.

  I have often heard the late William Allan of Eastbigging tell of the vast crowd
  of people that gathered on the farm of Skaill the first day that Hugh Bews
  yoked his wooden board plough and to drive the horses from behind with reins"

I have also been in touch with the Orkney archivist who tells me that it is very difficult to find out anything about the
Bews.  However, he is going to send me the information he has.  He believes the name stems from beu which is
old Flemish for beau which simply means good-looking, stylish - a bit of a dandy.  I can't imagine Hugh Bews being
much of a dandy behind a team of horses but,  at the end of the 18th Century, he must have been at the cutting edge
(no pun intended) of new technology.

The mould-board plough went on to tame the great wheat belts of middle America.  It is still in universal use but I doubt
if Hugh Bews would recognise today's steel monsters as being the 'descendant' of his simple wooden mould-board
when men preferred wood because it was 'warmer' for the soil.  I wish we were at thoughtful about poor Mother Earth today.
Alas, we have soiled and spoiled and sullied the World we live in.

Niven Sinclair
[ This is the Sinclair family discussion list, sinclair@mids.org [ To get off or on the list, see http://www.mids.org/sinclair/list.html

I have many Sinclairs and quite a few Bews in my Orkney ancestors.

Here is what Gregor Lamb in 'Surnames of Orkney' has to say. 'Bews: William Bews, Laverock, Shapinsay, 1595; (first record of name) an interesting Orkney surname and one of the most difficult to unravel; we find the name Bews in Orkney placenames such as Bewshouse, Buhouse, Quoybewmont, Bewin etc.from some lost Old Norse word meaning 'hobgoblin', related to the Scottish word 'boo' and the Danish word 'bussemand', both of which mean 'hobgoblin' : clearly a nickname given by the Norse to some of the early Celtic peoples: a very common surname in Orkney today, Bews lies in in 23rd place in the list of common Orkney surnames: this name is highly concentrated in Kirkwall where more than half the Bews live.'

Sinclair is of course the most common surname in Orkney, whereas for all Scotland it lies in 64th position according to Lamb.

Ron Garson.