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Caithness Field Club

Caithness Field Club Bulletin

The Pilkington Family in Caithness (by Ken Melhuish)
Ken Melhuish came to Caithness from Prescot in Lancashire, which was (and still is) the industrial stronghold of the Pilkington glass industry.  So he was surprised to find the Pilkingtons here in Caithness and investigated further. The names of places have been retained as they were in the source documents, so some of them are a bit strange to modern eyes

The first record of the Pilkington family in Caithness is in the valuation roll of 1878 where Thomas Pilkington of Lime Grove, Prescot is recorded as having the 'Shootings' in Lamsdale and Brawlbin. It is possible that Thomas Pilkington was renting the adjacent Shurrery Lodge. In 1884 he obtained the 'shootings' at Sandside and Shurrery with Lodges.

The first purchase of land is recorded in the Sassines of 1888 with the transfer, from the Duke of Portland to Thomas Pilkington of Knowsley Cottage, Prescot, the following:

  • the Town and lands of Reay, lands of Sandside,

  • Dachow, Shurrary and Fresgoe, Hillsetter and Brachside,

  •  lands of Borlum, Milntown, Tirm and land of Acharsker

In 1908 Thomas Pilkington gave a Feu Charter to the United Free Church of Reay comprising 3 acres to build a manse and church on the Thurso -Shebster -Reay road at the 8th milestone.

In 1912 there is an agreement between Cromartie, Duke and Earl of Sutherland (first party) and Thomas Pilkington of Sandside, Reay ( second party) referring to the true march between the first party's lands in the Parish of Farr and the Estate of Sandside.

In l913 Thomas Pilkington of Sandside and 19 Princes Gardens, London SW disposed to his son , Alan Douglas Pilkington, residing at Rosebank, Knowsley, Lancashire, all the Towns, lands and privileges in the areas around Reay, but not the House of Sandside.  In 1917 the son, Alan Douglas Pilkington of Sandside, purchased the lands and others called Achvarasdal and Broubster .There was a long list of small holdings, etc.  Thisincluded Achvarasdal Lodge where he was to live. Alan extended his lands in 1920 when he took over the Farm of Lansdale, part of Town and lands of Brawlbin, pendicles of Achinaan, Lamsdale and Carryside. Also part of estates of Forss, Westfield and others in the parish of Reay and Halkirk.

In 1922 Alan of Sandside (and Deanwood, Newbury ) took out a 30,000 loan from the London County, Westminster and Parrs Bank Ltd. London using the lands in Caithness as security.

In 1923 Alan took over the salmon fishing on River Forss and trout fishing. Also the servitude of taking gravel and sand and sea ware from Forss Mains, Brims Mains and Brims Castle. Later that year Alan (res. Achvarasdale Lodge) transferred part of the Dachow park in the village of Reay to the Caithness County Council and in 1926 he transferred 3 roods beside the Thurso -Melvich road to the Education Authority.

Thomas Pilkington of Bournemouth died in 1930 so that Alan Douglas Pilkington inherited the mansion house of Sandside and Mary's Cottage.

In 1930 a feu charter was granted to Finlay Cook Macpherson of Native Customs, East Railway Station, Tiensin, North China, for 36 pols in the village of Reay and the right to sink and maintain a well in the farm of Borlum.

Alan discharged the bond of cash credit from the Westminster Bank in 1932. Later that year he disposed of the estate of Sandside and salmon fishing to Captain Herbert Taylor of Sutton Hell, Thirsk, Yorks.

In 1934 the H.M. Works and Public Buildings gave notice that a number of stones etc. are to be designated as 'Monuments', including a chambered cairn at Shurrery.

In May 1938, A.D.Pilkington acquired the land of Isauld, viz:

  • the Farm

  • Isauld cottage

  • Part of a smallholding

  • the House at Isauld bridge and associated cottage

  • a Small holding

  • a Small holding

Also in 1938 and 1939 there were further notifications from the H.M.Works regarding various items to be listed monuments. These included the brochs at Achvarasdal and Achnabuist, a monument at Lamsdale Leans and Standing stones at Broubster and Shurrery church. Finally, Carnliath.

In June 1943 A.D.Pilkington disposed of 1 acres in Reay (the School Acre) to Captain H.A.Taylor of Sandside House.

In May 1944 Alex Sutherland disposed to Thomas Douglas Pilkington of Achvarasdal (on active service) the farm and lands of Achiebeg and Achamenach in the parish of Reay.

In May 1949 A.D.Pilkington disposed of Isauld Farm. Then in Nov 1949 he disposed of Achvarasdal Lodge to the Church of Scotland. The following year he sold the Achvarasdal home farm and grazings to N.P.Oswald and J&A Mowat.

This was followed by the disposal of Achiegullen to C. Lawson or Macdonald. Later, in 1950, T.D.Pilkington disposed of the farms of Achiebeg and Achiemenach to A.G.McRae. This was followed by A.D.Pilkington (of Treemand, Horsted Keynes, Sussex) selling a plot of land from Achvarasdal to R.Sutherland of Corby.and then a plot of land at Isauld to W.A.Lawson of Broubster.

Other disposals of 1950 were : acre Shebster/Achreamie to D.Mackay: Plot at Lochside,Isauld to G.Mackay: 114 acres at Brubster and 2 holdings ( 4 acres) to D.Farquhar : area of ground to Reay Nursing Association. : 250 acres at Achnabust to D.Mackay : Cottage at Isauld to Cath Macdonald : Grazing farm at Broubster, 2 holdings at Broubster , Farm of Achnacly, Game keepers house to P.W.Murray Thriepland.

There were further disposals in 1951: Isauld cottage to J.L.Sinclair : 1,2 & 5 Shebster to Mrs Thriepland : Estate of Shurrery (part of Sandside, Dachow and Shurrery) and Lamsdale farm to Sir Robert Black.

In 1952 the cottages at Isauld bridge were sold to C. Macdonald In 1953 A.D.Pilkington received 100 from the Council for improvements to steadings at 3 Shebster 

In 1959 the fishing rights on the Forss river in the estate of Shurrery were disposed to P.W.Murray Thriepland.

In 1969 A.D.Pilkington (of Abbey Lodge,Park Road, London) disposed of the fishing rights on the Forss river in Dorrery to D.M.Carmichael.

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