Isle Ornsay, Skye, 17 May 1883 - Alexander Macdonald (Saasaig)

ALEXANDER MACDONALD, Cottar, Saasaig (65)—examined.

5793. The Chairman.
—You have handed in a paper containing a statement of your grievance?
' In the year 1866, I, along with seven other families, was removed from the township of Ferrindonald. These families were scattered throughout the parish, for the sake of putting the township into one farm, and at the time of clearing it, the first man who occupied it as a farm was one of Lord Macdonald's servants. This man, who first occupied the farm, never possessed lands on the Macdonald estates nor elsewhere; and I can honestly state that I had my rents paid to the time of being removed, not being a farthing in arrears. I improved my croft very extensively, and I was worthily considered the best crofter in the parish, and my croft still shows the great improvements I made. Had similar crofts been worked in the same manner, I have no hesitation in saying that the value of the Lord Macdonald estates would have greatly increased, and that crofters would not require such outside assistance as they have been receiving from the south and elsewhere for some years. My father and grandfather were resident in the same township, both holding crofts, and during their lifetime ground officers to Lord Macdonald. The present farmer of this township of Ferrindonald only works my lot and my father's, which we improved, and the remaining five lots are in a miserable condition, without the slightest improvement. I am living for the last thirteen years as a cottar on one of the crofts of Sasaig, in a house which is not fit for a human being to live in, as the medical officer for this parish said when attending to my child on her deathbed, her sickness being brought on by the coldness and dampness of this house. I am still willing to take a croft and benefit myself and family. During all the time the croft was in my possession I never had cause to leave the parish, but when it was taken from me I had then to go to the south and elsewhere to earn a living for myself and family. It will be sixty-five years of age on the 10th of July first.

5794. Have you any other statement to add ?
—That the township was taken from us by that man, and fifteen other families were removed on his account also.

5795. How long ago is it ?
—About sixteen years ago.

5796. Who was the factor at that time ?

5797. Did you receive any compensation for your house?
—I got the value of the house I left.

5798. How much did you get ?
—I think it reached up to £5 or £6.

5799. What was the nature of the improvements you made upon your croft ?
—Draining, and putting a fence about it; and I was working that croft till it was considered an example to the country about. My father was forty years ground officer in the township, and my grandfather before him. I was farming with my father always until Lord Macdonald gave me that lot, and when Lord Macdonald died Archibald Macpherson was his grieve in Armadale, and his son a butler in the castle, and that is the way our township was cleared and the people were scattered through the country.

5800. Did you receive any compensation for your drains or dykes or fence?
—No, nothing but the house.

5801. Were you inspector of the poor?
—Yes, for thirteen years.

5802. Are you still inspector of the poor ?
—No. I had my brother as clerk. My brother was in the township, as I was myself, and he was put out of the township to another, and I was put to Camuscross. We are 4½ miles from each other. The general inspector was not thinking it suitable there should be such a distance between my clerk and myself, and I resigned for that reason. I then got to be sub-inspector under Mr Findlay.

5803. How do you earn your subsistence now ?
—No other way but just depending upon the crofters in the township for peats and ground on which I can plant potatoes.

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