Euphemia Betsy Hughson was my husband’s grand-aunt, and Morag’s great-grand-aunt. She was born in 1875. The family refer to her as Aunty Phemie.
Her family lived in Colvadale, now an abandoned area (on the island of Unst in Shetland), father John Hughson, mother Jemima (nee Johnson). The family home was Gardin, Colvadale.
They were a large family, sisters Jemima and Robina and brothers James, Arthur, Thomas and John Henry.
In the 1891 census Aunty Phemie was detailed as a knitter – (mostly the occupations for women on the census were knitter or spinner).
Her father John, was skipper of a sixareen. Read a story about him here.
In the 1911 census Euphemia was still living at home and detailed as a knitter. The household, as normal in those days, was large.
By this time her father, John Hughson had died (in 1909) and her mother Jemima was listed as head of the household, which included three daughters (knitters) and a son (working on the croft) as well as a six grand children and a elderly boarder.
|ROAD, STREET, &c.,
and No. or NAME of
|NAME and Surname
of each Person.
to Head of
|PROFESSION or OCCUPATION.|
Worker, or on
|Colvadale||Jemima Hughson||Head||73||W||Knitter||On own account||at home|
|John H Hughson||Son||26||S||Crofter||Do||Do|
|John T Hughson||Grand Son||16||S||Working on Croft||Worker|
|Jemima J Spence||Grand daur||10||School|
|John A Spence||Grand Son||6||Do|
|James Hughson||Grand Son||4|
|John W Hughson||Grand Son||18||S||Fisherman||Own account|
|Peter J Hughson||Grand Son||17||S||Do||Own account|
They would have a struggle to make ends meet.
This document shows the croft details from her father’s time at age 51. A cow, a calf and three sheep were the extent of their croft animals. His main source of income was fishing, and if it was not a good year at the fishing, they would fall behind on rent payment etc. Notice that they were in arrears to the tune of £22 which was several years-worth in arrears.
There is a saying about Orkney and Shetland, that Orkney men are farmers with a boat, and Shetland men are fishermen with a bit of land.
John Hughson obviously depended on the fishing to make a living, and if there were some bad years for the fishing, then it was very hard for the family.
Euphemia Betsy Hughson married Andrew Thomas Cluness in Colvadale, on 7 December 1916 when she was 41 years old. They were married for 26 years before he died age 75.
As an older lady, having lived for so many years in Colvadale which was in quite an isolated part of Unst, she moved to “Westerhoose”, Muness and lived there for some time.
Later she moved to the centre of Uyeasound to a smaller house at Hays Place.
This was originally accommodation for workers in the Herring Fishing times, and later was rented by a variety of folk.
Robert Hughson (my husband’s brother) can remember her “flittin” (moving house). He thinks he would have been 4 years old at the time, so that is about the mid-1940s. He recalled two boats being taken round from Uyeasound to Muness, one with a motor, the other sail.
“There was a fine big stone that we could take the boat in alongside at Muness.
The furniture and bits and pieces were taken from “Westerhoose” to the shore by gig, loaded onto the boats and taken round by sea to the pier at Hays Place, Uyeasound.
Then everything had to be taken in a hurl (wheelbarrow) up to the house and put in place for her in her new home.”
She lived there for some years before she died in 1969 age 84.