Bishop Murdoch Mackenzie was generally well regarded in Orkney during his tenure (1676-1688), and was obviously quite an approachable chap.  One day around 1684 he was somewhat indisposed through ill-health within his apartments of the Bishop’s Palace, Kirkwall.  His malady was quinsy, a nasty inflammation of the throat which often results in abscess in the region of the tonsils.  A woman leading her cow appears at the Palace gate, and enquires after the bishop.  She will not take no for an answer, despite being told repeatedly that the bishop was under the weather.  She requires a blessing for her cow. 

The bishop is made aware of her presence and agrees – the word used to describe his agreement is “curt” so I don’t imagine he was on his best form – to see the woman, but she would have to come to him.  And so, she did, leading her cow through the gate, up the stone staircase (now long gone) and into the dining hall of the palace, where she found the bishop sitting in his “leathern” chair.    The bishop, upon seeing the woman leading a cow directly into his dining room let out such a raucous laugh that it ruptured the abscess in his throat, giving him instant relief.  The cow was duly blessed, and the woman returned home a very happy lady. 

Craven 1893, p112