The island of North Ronaldshay in Orkney, Scotland, has contained in its history over 100 discrete recorded settlements, divided across six "townships". The population peaked in 1881 at 547, declining to only 72 in 2011.
Under the Norse system of inheritance that was used in Orkney, the main house passed to the eldest son but the property was divided among all their children, with sons receiving an equal share and daughters a half share. This led over time to an increasing number of farms that were smaller and smaller in size. 
Until the 15th century, the land was held under "udal" tenure, which meant that the landowners were relatively free and were secure in their landholding. The Earl of Orkney granted a feudal holding of the island to Margaret Bonar, wife of William Henryson, treasurer of Orkney and minister of Stronsay. In the 1595 Rentalls, the value of the island was listed as 72 pennies, of which only 6 pennies remained as odal land. These remaining udal rights were quickly removed; over the next nearly 300 years the tenants had little security of tenure, with many instances of tenants being "warned out" or removed from their land by the proprietor or his resident "baillie", often to increase the size of their own farms. This was finally ended with the Crofters Holdings Act 1886 which gave North Ronaldsay farmers security of tenure and reduced their rents.
Agriculture was based on the "run-rig" system, where strips of land were farmed in rotation by several families in the township. In 1832 the Baillie forced through the "squaring" of the land - dividing into self-contained farms that were wholly the responsibility of the tenant. 
The "Rentals of the ancient earldom and bishoprick of Orkney" by Peterkin recorded three main settlements in 1595: p76
A "Notarial Instrument" refered to a charter dated 16 Feb 1594 as follows:
The next reference is 30 years later:
A "wadset" (lease) dated 19 Nov 1641 described the land included in the lease as follows:
Contract of Wadset between William Henrysone of Holland, heritable proprietor of lands aftermentioned, on the one part, and David MccLellane, chamberlain of Orkney as factor for William Dick of Braid, sheriff principal and tacksman of Orkney and Zetland, on the other part whereby said William Henrysone binds himself to infeft said William Dick in lands and Ile of Northe Ronoldsay, comprising:
under reversion for £5557 11s. 3d. Scots, the sum of rents and duties due by said William Henrysone to said William Dick; reserving to Mr. Robert Henrysone, father of said William, his liferent of said lands, to Barbara Colvill, spouse to said Robert, her liferent of 500 merks furth of said lands and to Margaret Grahame, spouse to said William Henrysone, of her liferent of 16 penny land called the Bull of Ness. Said David Mcclellane sets back in tack to said William Henrysone the aforesaid lands for as long as said debt remains unpaid, Kirkwall. Registered in Books of Council and Session 1 Apr 1642; 
By the time of the 1851 census the island was clearly divided into six townships: Nesbusta was two townships of Nesstoun and Bustatoun, with Hollandstoun also recognised as separate townships; Linklet continued as a separate township in the centre; and Sailness was part of "East North Yard" township, with Ancumtoun in the north west.
Bustatoun was listed in the 1595 Rentall Book as "Nesbusta":
"NES, BUSTA and SAND [i.e. the neighbouring shoreline] 30d ob terra and 1 farg [farding, 1/4d] terra Inde 1d terra uthell [odal] in butter scat 14 lisp in scat silver 40s 6 d in scat of 1d terrae udal 1 mei setting bear et in scat and land mail of 29d ob 1 fdg terra p Rege 4 lasts 5 meils 6 mks bear 2 lasts 11 m 5 s 6 mks flesh Ibidem Twa [two] tumalis ane callit NOUST 1 m beer, anether callit HOLLAND 2 meils bear 59 1/4 poultry"
The name is derived form the Old Norse kirkju-bólstaðr (church farm)  and this appears to have been the settlement that gave the name to the township, "Busta". Marwick lists the bólstaðr as part of the "skatted" lands, which date back to the 800s when Harold Fairhair imposed the first of the traditional taxes (skats).  A cluster of Iron Age round-houses are nearby at the Brae of Howmae, possibly dating from the 8th century BC.  Some ancient quern-stones for grinding cereal have been found at Kirbest.
Kirbester was said to have been the home in the 1100s of Ragna the Wise and her son Thorstein the Strong. . It was held by John Tulloch and his son Thomas Tulloch in 1693. By 1841 it was in the hands of William Kelday and was one of the largest farms on the island, with 16 acres of arable land and 42 acres of pasture. After his death in 1882 it passed to his daughter, Sarah Kelday, who emigrated to the United States with her family. John Tulloch of nearby West Newbigging obtained the farm sometime before 1891. On his death in 1922 it passed to his son, William Tulloch.
Listed as "How", the property was held by Andrew Mairtaine in 1693.
The first reference was in the 1682 will of Janet Tulloch, wife of Magnus Swanney, who lived there. It was called "Girnavald", from Old Norse groenivollr (green field). 
Greanwall was held by Magnus Swannie in 1693.
There are forty people on WeRelate linked to Greenwall. The earliest person included is Thomas Tulloch who was born there in 1798 and died there in 1881. His family are all listed there, the last person being his great-grandson, Richard, who died there in 1978.
A previous settlement near Kirbest. 
Cruesbreck was held by Magnus Turfisone in 1693. The Turfus family was expelled from their home in the nineteenth century according to stories when Mrs Turfus rejected the unwelcome advances of the island's baillie. At first the baillie moved them to a poorer house at North Gravity. When he tried again, Mr Turfus is said to have hit the baillie, then gathered up his family and sailed to Sanday where they settled.
There are thirty three people on WeRelate linked to Cruesbreck.
Howar was held by William Swannie in 1693.
In the nineteenth century the farm of Howar was extended by the factor who lived at the farm by evicting the tenants of the neighbouring farms of Husmire, Disher, Flett, Fishoose and Boustay and consolidating their land into Howar. 
Stromnesse was held by David Swannie in 1693. By 1851 it had been absorbed into Howar.
A house by this name was listed in the 1733 rentals.
Traib [[Poll_Tax_returns_of_1693_for_North_Ronaldshay,_Orkney,_Scotland#Full_results|was held by John Thomson] in 1693.
From Old Norse hohaland (high land)  Mentioned in the 1595 Rentall book as a "towmale" of Bustatoun - i.e. a field outside the main settlement. In 1615 it was recorded as the estate of the island's main landowner, Robert Henryson of Holland, North Ronaldsay (nephew of Margaret Bonar, the first feudal landowner).  Holland was one of the nine settlements included in the 1654 Bleau map.
Holland was held by John Thomson in 1693.
The property was held by Magnus Muir in 1693. By 1851 it had been absorbed into Holland farm.
As "Ourland", this property was held by John Swannie in 1693.
Included in the 1654 Bleau map as "Turngness"
From Old Norse naustar (landing place for boats)  Nouster [[Poll_Tax_returns_of_1693_for_North_Ronaldshay,_Orkney,_Scotland#Full_results|was held by John Tullach] in 1693.
As "Ness", one of nine settlements included in the 1654 Bleau map, although the location seems to be slightly confused. Ness means a promontory, and it presumably refers to Brides Ness and originally constituted the lands north of the Muckle Gersty between Hooking Loch and Brides Ness.
Listed as Gerback in the 1733 rentals, from Old Norse garth-bolkr (dividing wall).  Marwick lists the "garth" as part of the "skatted" lands, which date back to the 800s when Harold Fairhair imposed the first of the traditional taxes (skats).  This would have Gerbow the oldest settlements in Nesstoun. The property was held by Robert Scott in 1693.
From Old Norse stein-brekka (stony slope).  In the 1850s the Cutt family were evicted from Disher and the eldest brother, Jamie was given half of Stenabreck's land and told to build a house on it. They built "Bridesness", but the tenant of Stenabreck was said to have been so heartbroken to lose half his land that he died of a broken heart. 
The property was held by William Thomson in 1693.
Newbigging was held by John Wall in 1693.
Included in the 1595 Rentall Book as follows:
LINKLET ane uris terrae ley payis in scat butter 6 lispunds in scat silver 16s and in land mail quia leyland Item the SKERRIE payit of auld half barrel olie and now payis ane barrel of olie.
As "Linclet", it was one of nine settlements included in the 1654 Bleau map.
Recorded as Saggarhous in 1653, from Old Norse suthr-grth-hus (south garth house) 
The property was held by Andrew Cutt in 1693.
From Old Norse grafar (hollow) 
Previously Dubhall. 
Old Norse vinjar-hus; former settlement north of Waterhouse. 
Part of this farm, Sketherus, may have previously been a house. 
From Old Norse grafar (hollow) 
The property was held by John Burwick in 1693.
East North Yard
Written as Sailness in 1595 rentals, when it was the main settlement in the north of the island:
SAILNESS and SAND 24d terre inde 5d ob terre uthell in butter scat 12 lisp in scat silver 30s 8d ob in scat of 5d ob terre uthell 5 m 5 set 4 set bier et in scat and land maile of 18d 1/2 fdg terre pro Rege 2 last 15 m 5 set 18 mk beir 1 last 17 m 18 mk flesche Ibidem ane towmale payis 1 m bier 36 pultrie
As "Sanes", it was one of nine settlements included in the 1654 Bleau map. Senness is the site of an ancient chapel and burial site with at least three old gravestones with no visible markings.
Midle ("Great") Senis [[Poll_Tax_returns_of_1693_for_North_Ronaldshay,_Orkney,_Scotland#Full_results|was held by Thomas Tullach] in 1693.
The first person listed on WeRelate at Senness is John Tulloch, born ca. 1750. The croft was the largest in East North Yard at 12 acres. It was passed on to his son, William and then to his eldest daughter Mary and her husband, Robert Cutt, who had been "warned out" of his croft at Disher. Robert and Mary passed it on to their only daughter, Mary Cutt and her husband, John Tulloch, formerly of Scottisgar. It passed to their daughter, Jane, and her husband William Tulloch (formerly of Sandback). William died in 1962 and Jane in 1969. In 1979, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) noted the farmstead was "deserted". 
Previously Shallkiscow (1682) & Sholtisskoo, from Old Norse shal-kvi-skja (enclosure for drying) . Sholtisquoy is part of the Senness "Biggin" (group of houses) and located about 50m northeast of Senness. The earliest mention is the 1682 will and testament of Andrew Tulloch. He died with a total of 14 meilles of sown crops - roughly 28 acres, which is half the arable acreable of the whole of East North Yard in 1851. The property was held by Steaven Tullach, son of Andrew Tulloch, in 1693. Steaven's eldest son, John Tulloch, is also listed as living in the property.
The next mention is the birth, in 1735, of Andrew Tulloch. Given the patterns of farming in the area it is likely that he is a descendent (possibly grandson) of this John Tulloch.
In "The Northern Isles: Orkney and Shetland" it was noted that the farm was empty in 1965. . In 2009 it was listed by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland as vacant, with the roof "mostly collapsed". 
Derived from Old Norse Garths-haugr (garth mount), Garso is located 250m west of Senness. . This is possibly the location of "Little Senis", which was held by Thomas Tullach in 1693. The earliest reference to Garso is in 1809 to Thomas Tulloch from Garso. The croft appears to have been inherited by his brother Peter Tulloch. In 1855, the property was split in two with his eldest son, Robert, taking "Garso No 1" and 4 of the 10 acres. The property stayed in this family, the last mention being the death of Elizabeth Tulloch, Robert's granddaughter, in 1986.
The property was held by Thomas Burwick in 1693.
Samback was held by Andrew Swannie in 1693.
From Old Norse vin (green pasture) 
Old Norse Vestness (west headland)  One of nine settlements included in the 1654 Bleau map.
Once a storehouse kept for shipwrecked sailors. 
Linnay is the oldest settlement recorded in Ancumtoun. A sasine dated 16 Feb 1594 referred to a towmaill outside Sailness "called Lynie". Bleau's map of 1654 has this as "Leny". Leine was held by Stephen Foderingham in 1693.
A testament records Magnus Tulloch holding "Nether Lunay" in 1682. Nether Linnay was held by Magnus' son Alexander Tulloch in 1693.
One of the nine settlements listed in Bleau's map of 1654. Ancum was held by John Muir and his son Hendrie in 1693.
Langer was held by John Muir in 1693.
Cott was held by Magnus in 1693.
Bura was held by William Tullach in 1693.