Broadford, Skye, 16 May 1883 - Donald Logan

DONALD LOGAN, Schoolmaster, Broadford (43)—examined.

4812. The Chairman.
—How long have you been a schoolmaster
— Twenty years. I have been twelve and a half years at Broadford.

4813. Were you teacher here before the new system was introduced ?
—I was. I was a parochial teacher. I declined at first to become a delegate, but at the urgent request of several of the other people at a public meeting, I came forward. I am not unwilling, however, to give evidence from any knowledge I have, and I have jotted down the different-things gathered from what others say and from what I know myself. As to their holdings, the average size is from 4 to 5 acres, with outrun. The
rents for these crofts are from £5 to £6. On such holdings the people become poorer and poorer, and would require at least 12 acres, and pasture for forty sheep. The soil becomes deteriorated in consequence of being turned every year for a number of years, and the rainfall of the country is so great that even the manure in summer is washed away. I have observed the rainfall for eight or nine years, and in some years it has been as high as 98 inches. Rain fell on 200 days in the year 1877. The holdings are only held at the will of the landlord, or rather his factor, because the people don't see and don't know the landlord. The dwellings were built at the crofter's expense, and until lately no compensation was allowed when leaving or being removed. The late factor (Tormore) told me he introduced a rule upon the estate that compensation would be allowed for crofter's houses, but the rule I was told was observed more in the breach than in the fulfilment. The rents are considered high, owing to the small extent of croft, but the crofters would be quite willing and more able to pay three times as much for a croft three times as large. My neighbour Donald Mackinnon, Harrapool, had his rent raised three times on one or two occasions after improvements. The sheep runs are mostly all the
result of evictions, but not quite recently. The farmers consider the crofters a nuisance, and prevent them from taking away sea-weed from the shores on the farm, although by their leases they have only a claim on the sea-weed required for their own use. I was an emigration agent for New Zealand, and got six families and one or two single people to go. Ministers or factors did not encourage emigration. Those who left were in better circumstances than the average. They got free passages, and their fares paid to the port of embarkation. If they had, or could get good crofts, they would not leave; others wished to go, but were so sunk in debt that their effects would not pay their debts and outfit. As to population, nearly 1200 live within 4 square miles, or nearly 300 to the square mile, between Broadford bridge and Lussay bridge, huddled on small crofts, and driven away from their former holdings. They are mostly engaged in fishing. I have been clerk and treasurer of the school board since the passing of the Education Act until last June. No encouragement is given to clever boys. I can give information on this head if necessary. As a great many of the crofters are on the verge of pauperism, they do not now consider it so great a shame as formerly to go over to that denomination. The pauper children are the best educated in the parish, as the parish pays for them. Rates are pressing. In the
last abstract issued by the Parochial Board in 1874, the parish was assessed for nearly £700, and the registered paupers only got £173. I produce the abstract. The proprietor charges for the sea-ware; and when the ship freighted with potatoes for the destitute was in the bay, the neighbouring sheep farmer kept from the crofters the ware with which they, intended to plant the potatoes. The people wish to get larger holdings and permanent tenure, fixed rents by land court or otherwise; but are not in favour of leases, as they fear the Greeks even bringing gifts.

4814. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Are you aware of your own knowledge what you have stated about the farmers not giving the sea-ware ?
—I have it from those present here who told me.

4815. And you have no doubt it is correct
—l have no doubt it is the truth.

4816. What are the names of the persons who were so refused?
—John M'Lean, Harrapool; John M'Leod, Harrapool; William Fraser,—these three people checked for taking it away.

4817. But who were the people who would not give the ware?
—The tacksman of Corrie—Mr Murchison.

4818. Anybody else than he?
—Nobody that I am aware of.

4819. You are now referring to the seed potatoes that benevolent people in the south sent here ?
—Quite so.

4820. Mr Cameron.
—How do you come to be clerk and treasurer of the school board ?
—I was parochial schoolmaster.

4821. Is it usual for a schoolmaster to be clerk and treasurer?
—There is no other body whom the board could get to do it. I was returning officer, and then I became clerk and treasurer.

4822. It is not usual iu this country?
—It is not uncommon.

4823. Sheriff Nicolson.
—To what extent are they learning the higher branches as compared with the time before the passing of the Education Act?
—I may say that there is about 5 per cent., and I should say there was then 10 per cent., but then we had not the accommodation we have now. We were huddling seventy scholars into a room 16 by 24 feet. I had often to tear out the windows to allow the scholars to get a breath of fresh air, and to stand at the door to get a breath of it myself. Scholars had to travel 6 miles, and to bring in stones, as they could not get seats to sit upon in the school.

4824. Do they attend well?
—There is no pressure put upon the children. I think if the school board did their duty the children would attend. They are very poor, and in the winter season, when they get
their clothes wet, it is not easy for them to come back again

4825. Have any of the parents been reported and fined ?
—Only in one township, and it was rather a quarrel between two townships as to where the school should be located.

4826. The Chairman.
—What is your native place ?

4827. A schoolmaster who belonged to the south told us he did not find the children here so apt for education as in the south ?
—I think he was quite wrong. I have had children from the south and children from the north, and the children from the north, when they came to be advanced and got a classical education, were not in any way behind the others.

4828. You speak Gaelic ?
—Plenty, and read it and write it too, and use it occasionally in the school, but not as a class subject.

4829. But in conveying to your pupils an understanding of English you use it ?
—When they are beginning, and I show them the similarity of certain words. I find it very useful, especially when infants come into the school in their first two years before they understand English. I find it
very usefid in the discipline, because there is a sort of bond of union between the scholars and myself.

4830. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Many of the children, I suppose, come to you without a word of English?

4831. Are there many of your people still who speak no English in this district?-
—Not very many.

4832. Then, as to reading newspapers. We are told of one paper which is not popular here. Do you know of any paper or more than one paper that is particularly read here?
—The Chronicle is the paper which is generally read.

4833. No Glasgow or Dundee paper?
—We sometimes get a sight of Glasgow and Dundee papers,

4834. Is the People Journal much read here ?
—I suppose about a dozen or two.

4835. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Are there about 5 per cent of the scholars in the higher standards now ?

4836. And there used to be about 10 per cent.

4837. And the accommodation was very much worse. What is the reason of this falling off?
—One chief reason is that we have a system of cram now, and we have not the same scope for teachers that we had formerly. Wre have to make up to a certain age, and ' it is the cow that ' milks' which is looked to, and I must prepare for the day of inspection. Specific subjects do not pay.

4838. Then you mean to say you don't encourage the children to take up the higher subjects?
—I would, if I had the time to devote to them.

4839. But owing to the pressure put upon you, you are not able to do so1?
—I am not able to devote the time, otherwise I would be very glad to do so.

4840. There was a statement that the assessments in the parish came to £700 a year?
—In that particular year, 1874.

4841. There was £173 of that spent upon paupers. How much was spent on education ?
—We first had a rate of 9d. to secure the grant. Then we had a rate of 5d., but since then it has reached Is. 8d., till last year when it reached 2s. O|d.

4842. What is the parochial rate ?
—I cannot say. I do not pay it on my house. I believe it is Is. l|d. on tenants.

4843. If £173 went to the paupers, what became of the rest?
—There was £77 for management and £65 to the doctor, and £50 for some arrears by the auditor.

4844. There seems to be a large payment for doctors and for paupers out of the parish and for paupers in the asylum, and poorhouse besides ?
— Likely.

4845. You have no reason to suppose the parochial board is not properly managed ?
—I cannot say ; I have nothing to do with the parochial board.

4846. But you have brought this up as a representation from the people who delegated you ?
—Yes, showing how heavy the rates are. I am not reflecting on the parochial board.

4847. Professor Mackinnon.
—The inference was of course that the rates might be smaller with equal efficiency ?
—I must be silent on that point, when I do not know.

4848. Then you attribute the want of higher education entirely to the present educational arrange-ments of the country ?
—I do, for the want of a sufficient staff; but it would not pay to keep a staff.

4849. There is no doubt that the general education is improved in all the schools of the country ?

4850. In efficiency and comfort. There are more children getting education ?
—More children get it, but I cannot say that the efficiency is greater. I cannot say we turn out more good scholars.

4851. You come from Sutherlandshire ?
—I come from Bonar Bridge.

4852. With reference to children there and here, which do you consider better clothed?
—They are far better clothed on the east coast. Three acres in this county are not to be compared with an acre there. The rainfall in Sutherlandshire is 29 inches; the rainfall here is 98 inches.

4853. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Are you of opinion that Gaelic could be much more utilised in education than it is at present --- I think so. It is a great drawback to us in teaching; perhaps one of our chief  drawbacks, that we have to teach English in the earliest stages. If Gaelic were made a specific subject when a child came to Standard IV., V., or VI. we could then draw larger grants, and have something for the time we spent in teaching English in the earlier stages.

4854. Is it not quite erroneous to state that the utilising of Gaelic, or making it a specific subject, would in any way prevent children being properly educated in English, or otherwise
—That is my expectation, that it would be a mistake.

4855. It is quite erroneous to view it in that light ?
—If we had the time it would be quite erroneous, provided the school board could give us the time for specific subjects.

4856. Are there many teachers in Skye who can speak Gaelic?
—A good few; but a good many are Lowlanders, who have come of late.

4857. Why do they come?
—Because our teachers go south. My head pupil teacher has gone to a Glasgow school. The Highlanders are going south, aud the Lowlanders are coming north.

4858. Are those who come from the south of a very high class ?
—My opinion is that there were mora schools under Government inspection in the south before the passing of the Education Act than in the north. In the north schools were mostly kept up by the Ladies' Association and the Church. A great many pupil teachers who did not hold certificates came north, and of course they arc inferior to the teachers who hold certificates. I hold a certificate myself.

4859. Professor Mackinnon.
—I suppose, other things being equal, you consider it a very great advantage that a teacher, in this part of the country, should know the language of the children ?
—Most certainly.

4860. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—And the inspector too?

4861. Professor Mackinnon.
—The inspector, as a matter of fact, does?
—As a matter of fact, he does. I wish to say that there were six or seven cottars who came forward and said they were upon the tacksman's ground, that they had very little ground, and they thought their case should be brought forward, and I promised to state it before you. In regard to the case of the cottars, they were for a very long time on Mackinnon of Kyleakin's farm ; the whole of them I represent. They have about one acre or one and a half acre of ground, and sometimes six of them get a cow's grazing; and I am told by some of them that they work thirty or forty days in the year for that. Each family has a cow. There is no money taken. Some years they do more, and some years they do less.

4862. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Do they pay anything for the stance of the house ?
—Not merely for the stance; they have bits of ground attached.

4863. For everything, they have to work thirty or forty days on the average?
—Some years they don't work at all, and some years they work thirty or forty days.

4864. Then, what is their grievance; I don't see it?
—I don't see it either. They are wishing to get more land, and if the crofts be extended, that it should not be upon their place.

4865. What is the value of a man's labour down at the Kyle?
—From 2s. 6d. to 3s. for the best labouring men.

4866. Can that be got hereabout ?
—The work cannot be got here at all; but at any work that is given them they get from 12s. to 15s. or 15s. to 18s. a week.

4867. I saw a man working near here at drains?
—He is a particularly good labourer, and he gets 2s. 6d. per day.

4868. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—What do the lime quarriers get?
—12s. to 15s.; I think 15s.; it is very hard work.

4869. The Chairman.
—You stated that under the old system your accommodation was very faulty. Are you satisfied with the present accommodation ?
—I am perfectly so.

4870. Do you think that the present accommodation is rather more spacious and extensive than is necessary, considering the resources and habits of the people ?
—I don't think so.

4871. You don't think it is a bit too good?

4872. And under the old system you state there were twice as many taking higher subjects in proportion to the number ?

4873. Were the scholars less numerous under the old system than now ? What was the average attendance under the old system ?
—The parochial school was shifted at the passing of the Act, and two districts were combined, and consequently the attendance is greater now.

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