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Letters / Another question about a Lerwick socialist

As time passes, it becomes more difficult to find good oral information about the past. I used to get results about individuals and situations from the period just before 1914, mainly due to the capacious memory of the late Mortimer Manson. Nowadays it is almost impossible.

I have another question about a Lerwick socialist. In 1910 the chair of the Social Democratic Party in Lerwick was Peter Inkster. I am fairly sure he must be Peter Mouat Sandison Inkster, born in North Yell in 1889.

Peter was a son of James Inkster, who in 1910 was manager of T. & J. Manson’s stationery premises and bookshop in Lerwick. James wasn’t a socialist, but he seems to have been friendly with his socialist contemporaries in the town.

Peter M.S. was a law clerk, like other Lerwick socialists, and in 1906 he was a general election polling clerk at Cunningsburgh, along with William Williamson – ‘Bill-Bill’ – another socialist.

In 1909 Peter was on the Up Helly Aa committee, somewhere that Lerwick’s pre-1914 Marxists congregated.

I would like to be certain that Peter M.S. was the SDP chair in 1910. There weren’t many Peter Inksters in the town at that time, although I have found one at 2 St Magnus Street, secretary of the Water Polo Club (Shetland Times, 16 March 1907). Even he might have been the same Peter.

Peter M.S. Inkster died in Edinburgh in December 1952. Is there any connection of his still to the fore who might know about his political views? I would be very grateful for information.

Brian Smith