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"Eday, an island and a parish in the North Isles district of Orkney. The island, at its southern extremity, lies 3 miles N by E of Shapinshay, 4 WNW of Stronsay, 6 E of Rousay, and 13 NNE of Kirkwall; and extends 7 miles in a direction nearly due N, to within l mile W of Sanday, and 2 miles E by S of Vostray. It contracts, in the form of an isthmus at the middle, from an extreme width of 3 miles in the S and of 2 in the N; forms the headlands of Warness in the extreme S, Venness in the SE, Fersness at the north-western extremity of its southern division, and Red Head, a high promontory of red granite, in the extreme N; and has two excellent harbours, Fersness Bay, immediately N of Fersness Head, and Calf Sound, a narrow strait dividing it in the extreme NE from Calf Island. The interior, which contains two small fresh-water lakes, rises to 248 feet at Vinquoy Hill in the N, and to 333 at Ward Hill in the S; abounds in an excellent kind of sandstone, which is quarried, and has been much used for building in Kirkwall, and even exported to London; comprises some fertile land to the E and 5, with soils variously of sand, gravel, loam, and clay, but is mostly a deep heath-covered peat moss, a plentiful store of fuel for the northern Orkneys. By the trustees of the late Mr Samuel Laing the estate of Carrick, already noticed, was sold to the late Robert James Hebden, Esq., who introduced sheep-farming on a large scale into Eday with much success, his flock being composed of Cheviots, which thrive well on the island. He further improved a large extent of land around his residence in the NE part of the island, and built a commodious farm-steading, with water-driven machinery. His son and successor, Harry Carwardine Hebden, Esq. (b. 1841; suc. 1877), holds 7500 acres. The antiquities of Eday comprise a number of tumuli, remains of several Picts houses, and an ancient standing stone 16 feet in height. There is a post office of Eday under Kirkwall, with money order and savings bank departments; a small inn stands at Calf Sound; and two public schools, North and South Eday, with respective accommodation for 90 and 90 children, had (1891) an average attendance of 36 and 36, and grants of £56, 17s. 6d. and £48, 14s. Pop. (1861) 897, (1871) 822, (1881) 730, (1891) 647. The parish comprehends also the island of Pharay and the Holm of Pharay, protecting the entrance of Fersness Bay; the islet of Red Holm, lying to the N of Pharay; the Calf of Eday island, flanking the outer side of Calf Sound; and the islets of Little Green Hoirn and Muckle Green Hoirn, lying to the SW of Eday, all, except Pharay, uninhabited and pastoral. For civil purposes it is united to STRONSAY. There are in it an Established church (1816), raised to quoad sacra parochial status in the year 1882 (stipend £135); a U.P. church (182); and a Baptist chapel (1881). Valuation (1891) £1697, 19s. 2d. Pop. (1801) 718, (1831) 961, (1861) 99, (1871) 905, (1881) 802, (1891) 705."

From Francis Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1896



Glimpses of Eday Life Past and Present.
by C. and C. Mylne
Published by The Kirkwall Press in 1986.

Looking back on Pharay as it was
by Robert Leslie
Published: Orcadian 20 July 1989


Presbyterian / Unitarian
Eday and Pharay, Church of Scotland

You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Eday and Pharay area or see them printed on a map.


Church Records

  • Baptisms, 1789-1854. Register regularly kept and in good condition, although appears to be a copy.
  • Marriages,1821-1854.
  • Burials. No entries.

Civil Registration

The Registrar of births, deaths, and marriages for the islands of Eday and Pharay.
The Registrar's records extend back only as far as 1st January 1855 when registration became compulsory in Scotland.

Description and Travel

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Mariebelle Cormack's book The Cormacks of Eday was published in 1969.