WHITTON and RITCH -Surname Studies and people from the Island of GRAEMSAY, Orkney

Jessie Davidson

Jessie Davidson

Female 1913 - 2006  (93 years)

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  • Name Jessie Davidson 
    Born 13 Jun 1913  Graemsay Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Died 28 Oct 2006  St Peters House, Stromness Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I1602  My Relatives
    Last Modified 4 Apr 2018 

    Father Isaac Davidson,   b. 4 Mar 1870, Graemsay Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 27 May 1933, Gravestone Graemsay D11 Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 63 years) 
    Relationship related 
    Mother Wilhelmina Jessie Nicolson,   b. 22 Dec 1883, South House, Cava, Orphir, Orkney Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Jan 1961, Gravestone Graemsay D11 Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 77 years) 
    Relationship related 
    Married 1912  Graemsay Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F339  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Jessie Davidson - 13 June 1913 to 27 Oct 2006

      Jessie was born in 1913 and brought up at Gorn, Graemsay, with her two younger brothers Frank and Charlie by their parents Isaac and Wilhelmina (Jessie) Davidson. After leaving school Jessie worked at home but did also work for perhaps up to two years on the croft of Slack at Brebister on Hoy then farmed by John and Janet Mowat. In May 1933 their father Isaac died in at the comparatively early age of 63 and the responsibility for running the 28 acres fell to Frank with help from his mother and sister. Charlie worked briefly at Sandside before signing on with the merchant navy as a cadet (about 1936).

      Following the outbreak of war Jessie enlisted with the Wrens (around 1940- 42) and in some of her notes is scribed her name and number -Wren J Davidson 72251. Going through family information and Jessie’s diary notes describing her various Christmas day locations as being in Graemsay in1942, Kirkwall in 1943, Grimsetter in 1944, Halesworth, Suffolk in 1945 and Clackmanan in 1946, it was obvious that she moved around quite a bit during this period. From an address that she gave as C/O Mrs Cowie, Craigton Farm, Clackmannan it is known that after demob she worked there for a few months as a house keeper to someone she had met during her Wren days. This did not work out particularly satisfactorily and she returned to Graemsay around summer 1947.

      For a short period she acted as a child carer for Nurse Mowat in Stromness, looking after her two children Barbara and Stephen. This may have come to an end when she was called upon to help with the care of her aunt Ursula in Lerwick, the wife of James Paterson Davidson and almost immediately on Ursula’s death, the care of James himself until she was recalled home by her mother around 1949. In her notes Jessie does refer from time to time to a Tommy from Lyness and it seems they kept up an intermittent correspondence and even met on occasions. There also have been family references to Jessie being admired by widower George Cusiter, the lighthouse keeper stationed at Hoy High 1950-55, but the attractions did not overcome her concerns of the small island community scrutiny of their occasional clandestine meetings and letters and they each drifted on into their separate ways.

      In 1950 she moved from Gorn with her mother to the house of Cletts at the same time as her brother, Frank, and his family moved into the next door farm of Fillets. She continued to look after her mother until they both again moved, this time in 1960 to18 Franklin Road, Stromness. At this point also, Frank moved with all of his family from Graemsay to Turriff in Aberdeenshire. Jessie’s mother unfortunately did not live very long in Stromness and passed away in January 1961. Shortly after this Jessie started working in St Peter’s House but during the late 1960s she experienced increasing pains in her legs and greater difficulties in walking. At this time Jessie Nicolson, her cousin, moved from the south of England to live with her but this arrangement did not last and after some time she returned again to the south.

      About 1970 Jessie’s condition had worsened, now diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, she was eventually admitted to St Peter’s House as a patient. She was at one time transferred briefly to Kirkwall but eventually returned to St Peter’s where she resided until her death in Oct 2006. It was remarked at the funeral that she had been a resident for over 29 years.

      Ruby Skinner (Harry’s wife) always said to Frank that she believed that Jessie had MS a great many years before it was diagnosed as being present and that this was the reason for some walking difficulties, noticeable as early as the 1950s.

      Jessie led a very ordinary life but as a result of the war she had a brief spell when she mixed in a different world and made a series of new friends and shared many new experiences. She was always greatly interested in people and took a keen interest in all that was going on in Graemsay, Hoy and Stromness. The knitting of Fair Isle patterned gloves and sweaters, was one of her great skills. She knitted many without reference to patterns and her gloves in particular were real works of art. She was a regular writer and corresponded with many people, taking a particular interest in the younger generations of family progressing in various parts of the world. It was this interest that perhaps encouraged her to take photographs with her little camera and this she did so for many years from the 1930s recording people, families and events that were close to her life. In doing so she has left a lasting legacy of images spanning 40 years that tell a little of life on the island, its people and also of friends that she met on her travels out with Graemsay.

      I do not remember her ever complaining about her condition and she was always remarkably cheerful about the situation she found herself in. When you met up with Jessie there was little talk about her personally as almost immediately a series of questions were directed to the visitor about family, work etc and once answered you then were enlightened chapter and verse about the latest incident in the islands or even the world stage.

      The funeral on 31 Oct 2006 was I believe a very fitting one for Jessie. There was little fuss, plain ordinary facts and very much a family and friends affair returning someone we all knew to the island of her birth, 93 years previously, as their last resting place. The rough seas, changeable weather, the people and the small family gathering made it a very special day indeed for all our collective memories.

      Norman Davidson
      14 Nov 2006