Isle Ornsay, Skye, 17 May 1883 - John Macdonald

JOHN MACDONALD, Crofter, Tarskaveg (71)—examined.

5534. The Chairman.
—Have you been freely elected by the people of Tarskaveg ?

5535. The statement from Tarskaveg is as follows :
— A good number of years ago, but within the memory of some of the oldest inhabitants, Tarskaveg was inhabited by only four tenants, who had the ground divided into five equal portions at a very moderate rent. They were in a pretty comfortable condition, living solely on the produce of the ground. Subsequently, as evictions and clearances became prevalent throughout the parish, sheep farming got the preference; people evicted from other townships began gradually to crowd in upon us, till, at the present day, our township is inhabited by forty tenants, occupying patches of ground varying from 1½ acre to 3½ acres. It therefore, stands to reason that, out of such a small portion of land, it is an utter impossibility to make a livelihood, as the ground is of very inferior quality. The manure chiefly consists of sea-weed, which we have to purchase from the proprietor, and in some cases we have to carry it for about five miles. Our rents have also been raised in the time of the late factor, but rack rents are not our principal grievances. What we desire more especially is a reasonable share of the land, whereof we can make a livelihood, without being obliged to go to distant parts of the country to earn a living, which is at once meagre and laborious. There is sufficient land to distribute, and land formerly cultivated by tenantry, but of late converted into sheep farms. If, therefore, some such lands were laid out into smaller portions, it would greatly help to ease us who are overcrowded on small patches of barren soil. We have also grievances as to public roads, for which we pay our annual sum to the landlord, but which he fails to keep in repair where roads have been made ; and, in some places, where roads are greatly needed, there are none. We have further to complain that, some years ago, we were deprived of a piece of ground without getting any abatement of rent. It is, however, right to explain that our present factor was generous enough to restore it to us at the moderate rent of £2. A loan of Government money was given us some thirty-three years ago, which we agreed to pay with our rents at the rate of 5 per cent per annum for a period of twenty years. At the expiry of that time we were to have received an abatement of 5 per cent, of our rents, which we have not yet received. The delegates appointed for Tarskaveg were Angus Mackinnon and Alexander Nicolson and John Macdonald.'
Have you a verbal statement to make in addition to what has been read ?
—One thing I have to tell. It was with injustice that I myself was placed there forty years ago. I was put out of Ferrindonald and placed in Tarskaveg, and Ferrindonald was three times set since then. I have nothing further to say concerning our township except what is written.

5536. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—How long is it since these additional tenants were driven upon the land of Tarskaveg ?
—When Linigary and Kilbeg were cleared, a family from each of these townships was settled in Tarskaveg.

5537. How long ago ?
—It is a long time since then. It was in factor Macpherson's time. I was young at the time, but I well remember it.

5538. Was Tarskaveg under four tenants then ?
—It was at first under four or five crofters.

5539. What was the date of that?
—Long, long ago. Their grandchildren are now in the place.

5540. And then it was under ten ?

5541. How long is it since then ?
—That was before the land was divided into lots.

5542. Is that in your own remembrance?
—In the year 1811 the lots were first divided.

5543. How many lots were divided?
—Thirty one, and nine or ten of these have now two families settled upon them.

5544. It was in 1811 they were made into lots. When the people were settled there in 1811, had there been any clearances'?
—I cannot say anything about that.

5545. These thirty-one lots in Tarskaveg, were they filled by Tarskaveg people, or were people brought in to fill them ?
—The people of Tarskaveg got the lots as a matter of course
—the most of them; but there were some families taken away from other places.

5546. And these double lots, have any of them arisen from the increase of the families of the people, or are they all due to people being brought in ?
—There are only three of these lots the families on which have arisen by natural increase, and in the others the increase has been by strange families being brought on.

5547. Sheriff Nicolson.
—What was the Government loan for that was given thirty-three years ago ?
—For drainage.

5548. It was at the time of the destitution, was it not?
—That was the year the potatoes failed when we got the Government money.

5549. The people were paid by the day ?
—We were paying it out of the rent again.

5550. Five per cent ?

5551. And you paid it for twenty years?
—We are paying it still

5552. How do you know it was only to extend over twenty years ?
— That was the account of it I got when we got the order to make the drains.

5553. Have you made any representation to the factor about it ?
—I am not aware we ever spoke to the factor about it.

5554. How far are you from the high road ?
—The church of Kilmore is about five miles from us. I believe the head of the roadway is 2 or 2½ miles from us.

5555. What sort of a road is it %
—Only a footpath.

5556. Is there a school at Tarskaveg?

5557. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—You say you offered no remonstrance about the payment of the drainage money. Now no drainage money was advanced by Government for such a long time as thirty-three years, and will you, therefore, the next time you pay your rent, ask what the meaning of it is ?
—Yes, I believe I will.

5558. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Is Tarskaveg a good fishing place ?
—It is not very good; it was at one time good.

5559. But you have beats there ?

5560. Have you a good port there ?
—There is no place where we can draw up our boats from the march of Tarskaveg at all. We go to the south side of Tockavaig pier.

5561. Have you no sort of pier?
—We have a sort of a quay, but it is spoiled with the sea.

5562. Could a good pier be made for the protection of the boats ?

5563. Could it be done at moderate cost?
—-There is a good part of it made already. We made it.

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