Bracadale, Skye, 18 May 1883 - Alexander Mccaskill

ALEXANDER M'CASKILL, Cottar, Cuilore, Drynoch (65)—examined.

6021. The Chairman.
—Have you been freely elected ?
—Yes, by the people of the township.

6022. What statement have you to make on the part of those who have appointed you ?
—I have not much to say. I have never seen any of them better off than myself.

6023. Sheriff Nicolson.
—How long have you been in Cuilore ?
—Fifty years.

6024. Was your father there before you ?

6025. How many families are there ?

6026. Has the number increased or diminished in your time ?
—Very much decreased.

6027. How have the numbers diminished ?
—Some were living, many of them dying.

6028. Are they crofters or cottars ?
—Poor people—cottars.

6029. What rent do they pay generally ?
—£2 for a long time now, but before then it was £1.

6030. When was it raised ?
—Forty years ago.

6031. What cattle, if any, are you allowed to keep?
—We are not allowed to keep a cow at all. But some of us keep one on a rope on our land. The land was not giving crops.

6032. How many families keep a cow ?

6033. Have they any sheep or horses ?
—Some have two or three sheep tethered, and keeping them on tether, and others have none at all.

6034. Were they better off formerly than they are now ?

6035. Had they never more land ?
—No, not to my recollection, but in mv father's time.

6036. Had they a hill then?

6037. Was it taken from them to be given to the farm of Drynoch ?
— Yes.

6038. How do they make their living at Cuilore ?
—Going every year to the south and elsewhere to work for wages.

6039. Do they make anything by fishing in the loch ?
—No, there is no fishing there at all.

6040. Do their young men go away to the fishing in other parts ?
— Some of them. Some are sailors, and these again help those at home.

6041. Have any of them ever petitioned for an increase of their land or pasture ?
—I do not think they did. I am not aware.

6042. Have they any particular grievances besides the smallness of the land they have
—The smallness of our holdings is what presses most upon us.

6043. Have there been people removed from the farm of Drynoch in your recollection ?
—Yes, all in our township have been taken off other townships.

6044. What other townships'?
—Some in Meddale, some in Somerdale, some in Craigbreac, some in Berdhu.

6045. Where are these places'?
—Up Loch Harport. There is not a creature there to-day. They are all crowded into Cuilore.

6046. Can you mention the places from which the people have been removed, and the time, if possible1?
—Yes, I can mention many of them. Meddale was first cleared, and I think there were ten or twelve families in it. There were ten families in Somerdale; in Craigbreac ten or eleven families, and six families in Bendhu. I myself remember these.

6047. When was the first ?
—About forty years ago.

6048. Who was the tacksman of Drynoch at that time ?
—Norman M'Leod, father of Martin M'Leod.

6049. Then the Somerdale people?
—At the same time. The whole of them were cleared at the same time.

6050. And all their land was added to the farm of Drynoch ?
—Yes, and all these townships are now vacant.

6051. Where did they go to?
—Many of them at that time went to America.

6052. Where did the rest go to ?
—All who could went to America and other places, and those of them who were poorly, and could not flit, and could not emigrate, remained at home, and were sent to Cuilore.

6053. Have you heard how the people who went to America succeeded?
—Some succeeded, and some did not.

6054. The tacksman before the last went to America himself?

6055. Are you obliged to work for the present tacksman ?

6056. How much ?
—-Any day he requires us.

6057. Could anything be done to you if you refused to go ?
—I am sure the tacksman would not wish us to refuse.

6058. What payment do you get ?
—It was Is. a day at first, and recently we have been getting Is. 6d. a day for men's wages, and 6d. until recently for women, when the wages were raised to 10d.

6059. Have you heard of anybody being threatened with eviction for not working ?
—Yes, the man is in the house.

6060. What is his name ?
—Alexander Cameron.

6061. Has he got warning ?
—I think he did.

6062. Mr Cameron.
—Is Alexander Cameron a cottar or a crofter ?
—He is just as we are.

6063. A cottar ?
—A cottar.

6064. Is it understood the cottars are supposed to do labour for the tacksman on whose farm they live ?
—Yes, that is understood. They are doing the -work.

6065. Is the difference between crofter and cottar that the crofter has land and farms it, and that the cottar has no land, but only a cow, and is supposed to work on the farm of the tacksman ?
—Yes, that is the difference.

6066. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Speaking of the farm of Drynoch, you have described the townships that were cleared, I don't think you have done the whole. I am informed ten townships were cleared by Captain M'Leod?
—Yes, I know that. They were cleared by the father of the captain.

6067. Then name them, besides the others you have already mentioned, and the number of the families ?

6068. How many families were evicted there ?
—I don't know how many families were there. There were five or six.

6069. What was the next ?
—Colbost; there were four or thereby. Glen Bracadale; there were about two families there. Glen-na-chadhaloch; there were three families there, but these were removed before my time.

6070. Any more ?
—Invermeadle five or six families there. Boust; four families. There is not a creature in any of these townships now unless the shepherd.

6071. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Do you pay any rent for your land besides the labour ?

6072. But you get Is. a day ?
—Yes, if we have any balance to get after paying our rent

6073. Do you generally have a balance to get?
—In the case of some they get money back.

6074. Does this prevent them going away from home to work ?
—No, the tacksman is not preventing us going to another place to work.

6075. They are only bound to work when at home ?
—Yes, that is the case.

6076. The Chairman.
—Does the tacksman allow them to find a substitute ?

6077. As to the shepherds who remain upon the large farms, are they generally people of the country, or are they brought from the north or south of Scotland ?
—Some of them are fetched from other counties.

6078. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Have you any inconvenience in the supply of your peats ?
—We have no inconvenience in getting peats.

6079. Was there a wood growing at Cuilore once?
—I did not see it. It was rocky and bushy, I believe.

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