FINLAY M'INNES, Crofter and Fisherman, Waterloo (54)—examined.
4874. The Chairman.
—Have you been freely elected a delegate?
4875. Will you be so good as to make a statement on the part of those who have elected you ?
—The first thing I have to tell is that our holdings are too small, and that they are bad. One of them is peat moss of unknown depth. I speak of our arable land. Again, we can only cultivate half of our lots. At the time of the year when it happens to be wet and rainy, our beasts cannot go to the upper part of our lots, the land is so deep and boggy. We have sometimes had to take our cattle out of the bog with ropes. Then our grazing is soft ground also. Not an eighth part of it can yield grass, the soil being black and peaty. Much of it cannot be trodden on by our cattle at times. Again, there are fifty-three years since it was laid out in lots, and it was then made into twelve lots. Some of the original occupiers of these twelve lots left the country and went abroad. There are three of our lots again divided into two halves, and one is divided into seven portions, and in these lots that are so divided the subdivisions of them are occupied by families who pay rent. Then there are six other families in the township who pay no rent at all. There are 149 souls in our township altogether. When it was first made into lots each lot was £ 3 of rent, and now the rent is £ 3 10s. for the past ten years. (see Appendix A. XIII). Besides that, we pay for sea-ware 5s. a year, and I have here a letter, which I got from the factor when he was raising the rent.
—Mr Finlay Maclnnes, 16 Waterloo, Tormore, by Broadford.
Skye, 31st October 1872. Sir, I have to intimate that your land and grazings have been valued at £1, 15s., and you are to be charged at that rate from Whitsunday last. If you consider yourself aggrieved, you will intimate the same to me, by writing, within ten days from this date, when I will relieve you of your lands and let to another.
—Your obedient ervant, D. MACDONALD. N.B.
—I have strict orders to allow no arrears after Whitsunday 1873.'
Here is another letter which I got from the landlord's agent when I failed to pay one year's dues for the sea-ware :
—'Portree, 29th July 1872. Sir, I have to acknowledge receipt of 5s. for sea-ware from Pabbay year 1869.
—I am, Sir, your obedient servant, HEW MACDONALD. Mr Finlay Maclnnes, Lower Scullamus, Broadford.'
Our summing is two cows, no sheep, no stirks. We get the sea-weed from the island opposite us—Pabbay,
—and we have great trouble taking the sea-ware from there. I was there a week yesterday, and I was nearly drowned, and those on shore when they were seeing us approaching were very much in fear that we were lost went another day, and I was not able to take sea-ware at all, it was so stormy. The people of our township are accustomed to herring fishing. We have no ports or sheltering places, and should the wind rise, and when we are approaching the shore in bad weather, we are in danger of losing our boats. Another thing is troubling us very much, and is touching our township very much, namely, that the steamer which passes up and down has often taken away our nets, and we got nothing like compensation for them. The steamer is not coming at a set time, neither is she taking the same course when she does come. Our land is now becoming much exhausted through continual cultivation. Some of it we are turning four times a year. We are planting potatoes in the same ground year after year—two years after each other at any rate. We also have to carry earth on our backs to hide the rocks, or we could not be able to sow oats. Then the part of our arable land which is furthest from our houses is very much destroyed by hares. Rabbits and deer don't trouble us much, but the hares do.
4876. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—In one of the letters you have handed in, it appears to be dated at Tormore on the 31st October 1872, and you are there told, in October 1872, that you are to be charged £1, 15s. of rent as from Whitsunday last. Is that correct, that five or six months after the term you are told for the first time your rent is to be raised, and to go backwards? Was that your first notice?
—Yes, that was the first notice, and the whole of the township the same way.
4877. Suppose you were not disposed to pay that increase of rent, that letter informs you you will be turned out in the very middle of a year ?
— I had no other expectation. I could not say I would not pay it, or that would be the result, and to every one else in the township.
4878. Have all the other people in the township received similar printed letters
—Yes, every one of them, so far as I know.
4879. Do I understand you to say that all the tenants in Waterloo pay for sea-ware direct to the landlord ?
—Yes, they do so in a sense. The landlord has got Pabbay in his own possession.
4880. About the subdivision of crofts, you stated that one croft was now subdivided into seven,
—under what circumstances was that done? Was it from the natural increase of the people themselves, or were there outsiders placed among them ?
—It was families from another part of the estate.
4881. It was outsiders?
—Yes. Besides that there was a pauper's house built upon that lot.
4882. Does the same answer apply to the subdivision of the others?There were twelve crofts in all originally, three subdivided, one of them into seven. Does the same observation apply, that it was due to outsiders
—the subdivision of the other two ?
—On one of these lots there are two families who were brought from Suishnish, and the subdivision of the other lots is due to the natural increase of the family. I would like to know if there was any possibility of getting a harbour of refuge for us in Broadford, and our township is also wanting to get more land, and that they should have fixity of tenure, so that the landlord could not evict unless there would be a very good reason for it.