Bracadale, Skye, 18 May 1883 - Donald Mcqueen

DONALD M'QUEEN, Bracadale (about 90)—examined.

6080. The Chairman.
—What is your occupation ?
—I took up the profession of religion when I was young. When the Rev. Mr Shaw was minister here, I went as a teacher to the island of Soay under the Religious Education Society.

6081. When you were a young man, do you remember if it was still the custom in this country to go up into the mountains for summer pasture, and live in shealings ?
—Yes, it was the practice in the island.

6082. Did many of the people do it ?-
—I cannot tell if there wore many, but it was the habit in some places.

6083. Was it a great convenience to the people to be able to do that ?
—Yes, it must have been a convenience to them, for they had cattle and sheep and horses, and was not that a convenience to them when they had cattle and sheep and horses on the hills; and the shealings, therefore, were a convenience.

6084. Was everybody allowed to go up and take his summing of cattle as he liked, or was it set off for particular places and particular numbers?
—I am not sure about these things, but the hill pastures were common. I cannot go particularly into these things, for I was not personally concerned with them.

6085. Do you think, from your recollection, that the people of those days were better off and happier than they are now ?
—Is it not likely they would be better off in their circumstances and more contented, when they would have food and cattle and sheep and houses of their own in plenty, as they have not to-day?

6086. Was there more religion in the country in those days than there is now ?
—I have seen a great deal of the power of the gospel. I saw at first a revival begin at Trotternish, and spreading through the island. I have seen again the Rev. Mr Shaw in Bracadale—it was he who brought me here—and I then saw the Rev. Mr M'Leod, and in his time the gospel had great power, and was spreading through the district in Trotternish and M'Leod's country and Durinish and over other places.

6087. Long ago were there many of the people who had not been baptised ?
—I don't think there were.

6088. Are the people all baptised now ?
—I don't know how they are in that way. I believe there are some unbaptised.

6089. Sheriff Nicolson.
—You say that in your young days you had plenty of everything. Do you recollect of any destitution in families at that time ?
—I remember of an occasional summer when people would be buying a little meal that would be .coming into the country—barley meal.

6090. Don't you recollect times when people used to feed upon shellfish for want of anything else ?
—I did not see much of that.

6091. Do you think there is any difference in the character of the people since these former times ?
—During the most of my time I have seen in this district plenty of food of all sorts—flesh and fish and milk — as Sheriff Nicolson well knows, who was reared in Bracadale. I have seen Mr M'Leod who was in Ebost, when that farm was a granary supplying food of all sorts to people as they required it, and a number of townships belonging to the crofters themselves. Three glens were in the hands of the people about here, and other places as weU, and Minginish over on the other side of the loch—as likely you have got account of
—in possession of people, and it is now under sheep.

6092. Were there not also a good many crofters at Ulinish ?
—Yes, there were some that had cows grazing from tacksmen, as the remains of their houses will evidence.

6093. Have they all been removed from Ulinish and Ebost ?
—I don't know. I believe there are some there yet. I was away out of the district when these changes were brought about. I was in Waternish, for the most part of twenty years, before I came back, and I cannot know very well how these things were. I don't wish to speak by guess. I may say this, that there are sixty years since I went to Soay, and I was in this district before going there close upon twenty years. I was a good part of twenty years in Waternish, and have been since then a good while in this district, and I believe this district is now in a worse condition than it has been all that time.

6094. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.:
—Have you heard of the white peas, when there was a scarcity of food, and peas were brought into toe country in 1783 ?
—I don't know if I was born at that time.

6095. The Chairman.
—In connection with the clearances, did you yourself witness a great deal of sorrow' and suffering?
—I did not see many of these clearances. I am not going to say what I do not know.

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