William Allen's Grave

Orkney

On the morning of the Sabbath, 17th March 1861, boatmen William Allen, and David Mouat and passenger John Tulloch, set sail from Shapinsay bound for Eday. Their journey had two aims.

Firstly, as their own local church was temporarily out of use it was necessary for them to find an alternative place for them to worship. Whilst this easily could have been achieved locally, Tulloch's mother, an Eday resident, was anxious to visit one of her daughter's who was seriously ill in Kirkwall. A decision was made therefore to worship on Eday and return with the mother who would thereby be able to travel onwards to the mainland.

On leaving Veantrow Bay the weather was described as 'boisterous', but even so, no great fear was felt for their safety. Shortly after their departure however, the wind increased and those aware of the treacherous natures of the waters mounted a precautionary storm watch.

As the boat reached the passage between Eday and the Holms it disappeared from view amidst a shower of sleet driven by a sudden violent squall. This was the last time the occupants of the boat were seen alive.

When the storm abated a search was started. Some oars, bottom boards and a tiller, all of which were believed to have come from the unfortunate boat, were found washed up on the larger of the Green Holms. This suggested that they might have met their end during an abortive landing attempt. . The remainder of the boat was found capsized off West Craigs on Westray some 8 days later. Before it could be salvaged it was broken up by the waves.

At the request of the relatives descriptions were printed in the local papers with a plea for either the return of their bodies, or if this were not feasible, for them to receive a decent Christian burial, the cost of which would be refunded.

Allen's body was found some tome afterwards lying on the shoreline just east of the northern tip of Muckle Green Holm. As desired he was buried slightly back from the shore in a grave marked by head, foot and side slabs. The side and foot slabs were obtained locally but a commercial shaped sandstone headstone was purchased for the grave bearing the inscription.

... To the memory of William Allen who was drowned on the 17th March 1861.