Bracadale, Skye, 18 May 1883 - Adam Scott

ADAM SCOTT, Drynoch (25), and KENNETH GILLIES, Cottar, Old Drynoch (69)—examined.

6476. The Chairman.
—You desire to make a statement to the Commission ?
Mr Scott. Yes, I am the son of the tenant of Drynoch.

6477. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Do you manage for your father ?
—Yes, but not at the time the occasion of these complaints took place. As to the letter that Cameron presented, he said that he never understood that it was an understood thing that each crofter on the farm supplied female labour, and I wish to state that it has always been understood, and there are several cottars here who, if the question were put to them whether they understood it, will tell you that they did.

[To Kenneth Gillies.]
—Is it not an understood thing that each cottar on Drynoch supplies female labour?
Mr Gillies.
Mr Scott. Has that not always been understood and acted upon1?
Gillies. Yes.

Mr Scott. I may also say that the request would never have been made for any man to keep a female worker if he had not such already in the house ; but as to this man who speaks—when the complaint was first made against him, his sister lived with him, and I don't remember at what time his sister got married, and the charge was continued for some time after the sister got married; but the complaint would never have been made if she had not been there. When the other woman came to the work, she would remain behind, and it was for the sake of example that it was done, because, of course, if one hangs back and does not fulfil the conditions it is a bad example to the rest.

6478. The Chairman.
—Do you mean that after the sister was married she continued to live on the farm ?
—No, but after she was married the additional charge was taken off, but it was continued some time after the sister was married—it was in vindication of the principle.

6479. But it was not intended to be a permanent charge ?
—It has not been a permanent charge.

6480. What was the money payment exacted?
—I am not quite sure of the figures. There was £1 a year added to his rent, but the light in which it was put was this, that the croft was worth more than what he was paving, unless it was for the advantage gained to the tacksman by the labour he supplied; and when he refused to supply the labour this £1 a year was put on.

6481. The £1 a year was put on in substitution for the female labour

6482. Is that to be continued ?
—It has been taken off already.

6483. "Why has it been taken off?
—I don't know exactly when it was taken off. I think it was taken off last year.

6484. If it is taken off, what will the other crofters say ?
—Well, he has no longer a sister living with him. I may make another statement as to the wages, which were stated at Is. 6d. That is the wage for female work, but it is the minimum. There are others up to 2s. and 2s. 6d. for draining, budding, smearing, and so on. In short, they got at the rate of far more last year than Is. 6d. It is misleading, then, to say it was Is. 6d.

6485. Are the wages of the female labourers raised in harvest ?
—Yes. The witness said 6d. or 8d. That is a point I am not sure about. It is 10d. now, but I am not sure whether, at the time the dispute took place, it was 10d. or not. I rather think it was, but I was not manager then.

6486. What part of the country does your family come from ?
— Roxburghshire ; but we have been three generations here.

6487. [To Kenneth Gillies.]
—You desire to say something for yourself ?

Gillies. When Captain M'Leod was at Drynoch we were not paying at all. Then when Dr M'Caskill came he laid rent upon us, and after that he only lived three and a half years; and then Mr Scott came, and Mr Scott left us all along as he found us. About ten or fifteen years ago he raised our wages. When Dr M'Caskill was there we had only Is. a day. Mr Scott raised the wages Is. and 6d. Dr M'Caskill shifted us from the holdings we had from Dr M'Leod, and we now want to get that land which we had restored to us—it is more convenient to the shore,— and also sufficient land to keep a cow. We are not able to take more.

6488. Do you consider that your condition is better now than it was in M'Caskill's time ?
—We know that it is very much better. We have a good master. He never refused us money,—man, woman, or child, he never refused. He keeps a meal store open to us every day of the year.

6489. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Are you employed by Mr Scott from year's end to year's end ?
—He cannot keep us in regular work all the year round, but if he had work to give he would give it to us. in preference.

6490. Are you employed all the year round ?
—No, but we get work when he has it to give.

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