Rev. Mr REID, Portree—examined.
634. The Chairman.
—Have you any statement to make to the Commission?
—I have been appointed by the people as one of their delegates, and I allowed myself to be so chosen to encourage people to come forward and give frankly and freely that information you desire to have. I allowed myself to be nominated for the very purpose, and I am prepared to do all I can to inaugurate any movement that might benefit their condition, and promote more friendly relations between the proprietors and the tenants generally amongst us. But though I was prepared to make a little statement, and answer some questions if required, I find it quite unnecessary, because the general strain of the information you have recorded to-day is quite in accordance with my previous knowledge and information. I have been in this island for thirty years, and have known the people well, and I know personally a great many of the changes referred to. I feel it quite unnecessary on that account to detain you, who have been so patient and considerate to all parties here to-day, and if I wish to make any suggestions hereafter, as to the mode or manner in which I would improve things if I am not in Portree when we shall have the pleasure of seeing you there, I shall use the privilege of committing a few words to paper, and you can make any use of it you like. I have to say here, in conclusion, that some of the elections of delegates have been interfered with outside; but so far as this parish is concerned, there has not been a shadow of outside influence brought to bear on the crofters in their election of delegates. I say that to the credit of all parties.
635. As we are not quite sure of seeing you again, there are one or two questions I would like to ask you. How long have you been actually resident as a minister in this parish?
—Within a few months of thirty years. ?
636. And your congregation of the Free Church is dispersed over the whole surface of the parish?
637. So you are acquainted with every part of it?
—I am acquainted as well as can be expected with the people and their circumstances generally.
638. There was a curious statement made to account for the removal of certain crofters at an early period. It is contained in the evidence of Samuel Nicolson, who stated that people had been removed, I think from their crofts at Sconser, in some degree on account of the Free Church agitation, for having given an asylum to certain parties belonging to the Free Church. Did you ever hear that mentioned as a tradition in the country before ?
—It was not a tradition with me at all. I had people in my congregation who were removed for taking a prominent part in the way of collecting or office-bearing or taking an interest in that great movement. They had to part with their lots, and it is only within the last two years that one of the most excellent men died, who took to being a porter at the steamer in Portree after being tenant of a lot, and who had been turned out simply because he had taken an interest in the Free Church movement. It was not a matter of hearsay with me, because several of my people have been so dealt with. Of course, feeling ran very high, and one must make allowance for that; and several parties suffered severely, and lost their lots in consequence of giving countenance to the cause, and sheltering those who had the courage to stand by the cause in that respect. I could give instances here and there through the Braes, if required. But all feeling of that sort has now disappeared; so far as I know, I think there is nothing of the kind.
639. In fact, the crofters do not suffer any injustice on account of their religious persuasion ?
—Not that I am aware of.