DONALD M'GILLIVRAY, Crofter and Fisherman, Lower Breakish (55)— examined,
4761. The Chairman.
—Have you been freely elected a delegate by yourpeople
4762. You have produced a paper. Is that the statement which you wish to put into our hands?
4763. Has this been seen by all the persons who sent you here ?
—Yes. It is as follows :
—' Lower Breakish, May 14, 1883. The township of Lower Breakish was originally let to tenants in the year 1800, and formed into forty lots, with equal shares of pastures from the shore to the watershed as wind and rain might divide it. We possessed these lots for a number of years, until Mr Macpherson, then factor, deprived us of one of our pastures without any summons or reduction of rent, and let it to tenants which still hold it. We had still a right to keep sheep or cattle on the hill pastures until Tormore, the late factor, deprived us of all the hill, and ordered our sheep to be gathered to Kinloch sheepfold, where we had either to kill them at once, or seH them for half price. He left us a patch of the hill for a shift for our cattle twice a year. This place is four miles distant from the nearest of us; and our wives or daughters have to travel that distance twice a day, viz., 16 miles, for very little milk, and four men have to watch the cattle night and day during the whole time. In the second year of his factorship he (Tormore) added to our rent from 3s. to 16s. per lot. Moreover, he charged the township £20 extra for the patch of hill pasture. Seventeen of the lots are divided into two halves, in allsixty-three families, with a population of 311. We will be in poverty and want, and a burden to the community until the other township., Upper Breakish, is lifted, and the place restored to us as before.
4764. Do you desire to add anything to that statement on your own part ?
—Yes. I desire to tell that when our forefathers got the land some of them went to the army, and others had sons and brothers in the army, when the last Macdonald regiment was raised, and that was the reason why these crofters got this township cut out. The township was previously in possession of eight crofters.
4765. Do you mean that the township of Upper Breakish was cut out of the township of Breakish or Lower Breakish ?
—Yes. Upper Breakish was cut out of the pasture belonging to Lower Breakish.
4766. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—When did you get Lower Breakish ?
— In 1803. There were eight tenants thare previously, and the descendants of these eight are with us yet.
4767. The Chairman.
—I understand that before the year 1800 there were in Lower Breakish eight tenants ?
4768. And that subsequent to that date tenants were brought in and located on the same land ?
—On their pasture.
4769. As a reward to them because their relatives took service in Lord Macdonald's regiment ?
4770. How many families were there then settled upon it ?
4771. Forty new ones, or forty including the eight?
—Forty in addition to the original eight
4772. What next ?
—The second grazing which they got has since been taken from them. The whole pasture which we had for our sheep has been taken from us.
4773. How much hill pasture have you now got remaining ?
—A strip about two miles in length, and I cannot say it is half a mile in breadth.
4774. Do they keep any sheep?
—No, neither sheep nor horse. If a man keeps a horse, he must buy grazing for it from somebody else outside our township.
4775. How far is this, the strip of grazing, from the holdings on the township ?
—Four miles from those of us who are nearest to it.
4776. Is it true that the people really go, at a certain season, four miles back and forward, twice a day, to this place ?
4777. How many do that ? How many is if necessary to employ ?
— Every one who has a cow has to do that.
4778. Have they brought this hardship under the notice of the factor and the landlord 1
—Yes, doubtless. It was Tormore who did this upon us, and we applied three times to our present factor to have this hardship removed, and he has uot done so. He is trying to do so.
4779. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—How long is it since Upper Breakish was cut off Lower Breakish ?
—About seventy years ago.
4780. How long is it since the next piece of pasture was taken from them by Tormore ?
—About five years ago.
4781. Who got it?
—The people of Upper Breakish.
4782. When Upper Breakish got that pasture, was no pasture left in Lower Breakish?
—Yes, a piece is left them yet.
4783. This other piece that was given them four miles away is charged £20 of rent ?
—Yes, and even it is part of the old grazing that we had.
4784. It is not mentioned in this paper as part of the old grazing ?
— That does not matter.
4785. Then they had to pay £20 extra for a piece of their own hill ground ?
4786. Why did Tormore raise the rent ? Was it because he had the place valued ?
—I am not aware, unless he valued it himself. He never came to see where we were living, or what sort of land we had, and yet he raised our rents twice.
4787. Are their rents dearer than those of their neighbours, comparing their land and stock
—I mean the rents in Lower Breakish compared with those along the coast here ?
—They may be equally dear in other townships.
4788. Were they cheap rented before the £20 was put on ?
—It was not. We were not counting it cheap at all. Our opinion is, there is not a township in Skye so dear as ours.
4789. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—When this bit of land five years ago was given to the Upper Breakish people, did the Upper Breakish people pay any rent for that?
—Yes, a little over £40.
4790. What reduction did you get for its being taken away from you ?
— Not a halfpenny, but £20 additional was laid upon us.
4791. Do I understand that five years ago, when this piece of land was taken from Lower Breakish and given to Upper Breakish, £40 of rent was paid by the people of Upper Breakish; whereas you yourselves received no reduction of rent for this bit being taken away ?
—No, we did not get a halfpenny, but our rents were raised £20 for the piece which was left with us.
4792. But as I understand, you had not that piece for which you are now paying £20 at the time the detached piece of Upper Breakish was taken away ?
—Yes, we had it, except a small corner.
4793. Then we come to this, that except that small corner, there was at your expense a rise of £40 of rent got for a piece of land, and you yourselves paid £20 also. It came to a matter of £60 ?
4794. Was there any reason given for that operation ?
—No reason given.
4795. Did I understand you rightly to say that the factor never went to these places to see what was proposed to be done at this time ?
—The factor went to see the hill pasture, but he never came to see us or our houses.
4796. What period of notice did you get that this was to be done?
— We did get notice beforehand.
4797. How long
—I cannot remember, but the time was not long.
4798. Were you warned out of it
4799. Did you protest and object at the time
—Yes, we were objecting of the pasture being taken from us altogether, but we were not objecting to the half being given to our neighbours.
4800. Did the Upper Breakish people get anything else except this bit of hill pasture for the £40
—They got a little piece of the Kyle tack, but we claimed what they got as ours by right.
4801. You say in your petition that you will be in poverty and want and a burden to the community until the other township of Upper Breakish is lifted. Where do you propose to put the people of Upper Breakish ?
—Is there not plenty of land through the country
The gentlemen can easily understand that we cannot but be in poverty in a place where there are sixty-three families and three hundred and eleven souls altogether, and when we have only about 160 acres of arable land, and part of it rocky and mossy,—covering the rocks with earth which I had to carry on my back in creels, carrying stones in the same way with creels to the drains. We have neither horse nor cart. I have only one sheep, and she had three lambs last year, and I have no place to keep them on.
4802. The Chairman.
—Are we to understand that the women of your township have to walk sixteen nines a day for the purpose of milking their cows twice a day?
—Yes, doubtless. If there are two women in a family, the one takes it at the one end of the day, and the other at the other. If they don't do that, the calves will perish in our folds.
4803. You stated that the factor held out the hope to you that your grievance would be redressed. Do you have ground for thinking that your grievance will soon be remedied 1
—We are in that hope.
4804. How does the factor intend to remedy the grievance ?
—He was promising that we would get a part of the hill pasture back.
4805. From Upper Breakish?
4806. How would he indemnify the people of Upper Breakish for the loss of their pasture 1
—I do not know.
4807. Do you know of any steps taken by the factor to remove the grievance?
—I know that he came twice or thrice to us, but we could not agree among ourselves about it.
4808. What sort of land is it that intervenes between the crofts and the sheepfold of Kinloch ?
—Black heathery hill pasture.
4809. Whose occupation is it in
—Part of it we have ourselves, and the people of Upper Breakish have the rest The part which is next to their lots belongs to them, and we have to walk over that before we reach our own.
4810. I suppose that from your experience you are of the opinion that it is very important for hill pasture, which is attached to crofts, to be in the immediate vicinit}' of the arable ground ?
4811. And that an arrangement for giving hill pasture to crofters who do not possess it would not be beneficial to them unless such hill pasture were situated close to the arable ground?