JOHN M'SWAN, Crofter, Skiniden—examined
4029. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—What place were you in formerly ?
— I was nineteen years paying rent in Ramasaig.
4030. When you went into Ramasaig, what happened ?
—My brother and I were on the one lot. My brother became sickly, and fell into arrears. Then he died, and another brother of mine entered the place from Edinbane. He remained four or five years in it, and the arrears were increasing on him; and when he saw this he left entirely, and returned to Edinbane, and the arrears were then left about my head. They then began to warn me out of the place for these arrears, and then I began to ask for another place, owing to the way in which I was disgusted with the warnings I was getting. Tormore was the factor then, and he sent me word I would get a lot in Skiniden, if I would give him the stock and
sheep which I had in Skiniden. He himself had made a club stock of the stock of Skiniden. I told him I would give him the sheep, as I was sinking in arrears, paying for warning every year. I then came to Skiniden, and when I did so, here were five on the lot on which I entered. Four others and myself had the lot on which I entered.
4031. Did you at any time in your life pay to the landlord the arrears of a stranger on condition of getting a place ?
—The factor made me pay the arrears which had accumulated on my brother.(see Appendix A. XXIV)
4032. Were your brother and yourself jointly in the farm?
—Yes, and we had a house each, and we were getting separate receipts for our rents, and I gave up to the factor my receipts, and he kept them several years in his possession at Tormore. I was thinking I would not get them back at all, but I sent for them to him, and when the receipts came back the factor told me he could not deny but I had paid him my own share of the rent,—that he could not help it, but his predecessor in the factorship was responsible for it,—that it was so in the books.
4033. Were the two names of yourself and your brother in the rental book ?
—Yes. No man could have land without having his name in the books.
4034. The Chairman.
—Suppose your brother had died, would you have been tenant in the lot occupied by your brother ?
—No, I had nothing to do with my brother's possession, nor he with mine.
4035. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Then it was not a joint possession?
— There were separate receipts and separate payments.
4036. You stated that a stranger entered your brother's half, and was there for some years. Was it after the outgoing of that stranger that you were made to pay the arrears of your brother ?
—The arrears which had accumulated on my two brothers were exacted from me. They kept my share of sheep, value £20, for these shares.
4037. Does it come to this, that you had to pay for something that you never got any benefit from ?
—Yes, I never got the value of a snuff.
4038. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Were the two tenants in one lot, or were they two tenants on two separate lots ?
—Yes, it was divided between my brother and myself,
4039. Did you and your brother divide it, or did the factor divide it ?
—It was myself and other people of the township who were seeing to its being divided properly.
4040. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—After this division between yourself and your brother, were you in the habit of getting a receipt for only your part I
—We were getting separate receipts after this division.
4041. And the factor recognised the division ?
—Yes, the factor never objected to it.
4042. Professor Mackinnon.
—He knew of it and expected it?
—Yes, he must have known, for after my brother left I asked him for the whole croft.
4043. The Cliairman.
—Suppose you had declined to pay the arrears due by your brother or brothers, what would have happened to you?
—It would not be exacted from me as long as I would remain in Ramasaig, but when I left they kept the sheep from me: and he told me that if I would give him the sheep and £5 in money, I would get a lot in Skiniden. I had not the money, and he said he would take the sheep for the £5, and I got such security.
4044. Then, what was it you paid altogether ?
—He did not make a price for the sheep, but as he chose himself; but those who came after me got £20 , being £1 per head over all. On the lot on which I now am there are arrears on the person who occupies it with me, and they can lay his arrears upon me as they did before. I cannot contend with them at law. If I could I would have taken it off them, having my receipts there to produce. I gave up all expectation.
4045. Is it a common thing in the country for incoming tenants to pay the arrears of their predecessors as a condition of getting their holdings ?
—Sometimes that is done, but rarely.