Skeabost, Skye, 9 May 1883 - Finlay Mcinnes

FINLAY M'INNES, Crofter, Glen Bernisdale (52)—examined.

1040. The Chairman.
—Are you a native of this place?

1041. Do you possess a croft?
—I have a croft.

1042. Have you any other employment?
—Yes. I am a farm servant to Mr Macdonald, Skeabost.

1043. Have you been freely elected a delegate by the people?

1044. Was that at the first election or at the second election?
—At the first one.

1045. You have heard all that has been said by previous witnesses?
— Yes, mostly.

1046. Did you understand it?
—Some of it.

1047. Have you any remarks to make upon it ?

1048. Have you any remarks to make upon the condition of the people generally ?
—That is what brought me here.

1049. Will you be so good as to make a statement ?
—The cause of our complaints is that we have so little land and so much of the waste, and though our landlord would wish to do us justice, he cannot. I have no more to say.

1050. Sheriff Nicolson.
—What rent do you pay yourself?

1051. How many cattle do you keep?
—Two cows and two stirks.

1052. And sheep?
—The summing of the sheep should be eight sheep, but I have not got them yet.

1053. Do you think your rent too high?
—No, but although I had that land for nothing it would not support me.

1054. How long do the corn and potatoes you can raise upon it feed yourself and your family ?
—Not a single day this year.

1055. How is that? Had you no corn at all?
—Yes; but the wind destroyed it, and I was obliged to give all that was left to the cattle.

1056. There were great storms last autumn?

1057. And the potatoes?
—The potatoes are all gone this year. We had nothing left at all.

1058. Had you no potatoes at all?
—Not a single potato.

1059. Have you got seed?
—Yes, I bought 3 barrels of potatoes and a boll of oat seed.

1060. Did you get it yourself?

1061. Did you get any of the destitution money?

1062. Are you constantly engaged with Mr Macdonald?
—Yes, since eight or seven years ago.

1063. Who works your croft?
—Mr Macdonald has given me a day of the horses to plough it, and the rest of my family work it and I myself work it after hours, for we get liberty at six o'clock when the work is not very busy.

1064. Are you able to keep it satisfactorily in order?
—Middling well, but I am just doing all the best I can in hope my family will grow up to assist me to keep it in order afterwards; and we hope the Royal Commission would see good to give us some of that land that is wasting in the Isle of Skye to support us.

1065. Was there a great crowding in of people from other parts into this property ?
—Yes ; as you have heard before. The grazing belongs to Bernisdale, and when Mr Macdonald came into the estate in 1830 he let these two places to tenants, and eight people came from Macleod's country—Roag and Harlosh. They came to the upper Glen, and some from Borve came to this estate, and they rather crowded it.

1066. What was the reason he took more people in?
—Just to get rent out of them.

1067. Was there anything in this place that attracted the people more than other parts ?
—Yes, because the late Rev. Roderick M'Leod was the minister preaching here, and people liked to be near him.

1068. The Chairman.
—You stated you are a farm servant to the proprietor ?

1069. What are the wages which you receive from the proprietor?
— £18 a year and 6½ bolls of meal.

1070. Do you pay any rent for your croft, or do you get your croft for nothing ?
—I am paying for my croft out of my wages.

1071. Have you any other wages besides the money wages and meal ?
— None, save one day of his horses in the spring time to plough my croft.

1072. Going back twenty years in your recollection, what would have been your wages in the same position or for the same service twenty or thirty years ago?
—From £10 to £12, and perhaps £8.

1073. With the same amount of meal?

1074. Then, do you think that a man in your position is better off now than he would have been twenty years ago, or worse off?
—It is a hard question to answer, but I think they were every bit as good on the £10 at that time as they should be to day at £18.

1075. Explain the reason of that?
—There is more extravagance going among people at this time.

1076. Is there much tea consumed?
—A great deal.

1077. Do the people wear better clothes than they did?
—Far better clothes.

1078. Are the female members of the family more extravagant?
— Yes, two times. They require elastic-sided boots instead of laced boots.

1079. You are a farm servant, or have you got labourers who work under you ? Are you a grieve?
—Just a servant.

1080. There are no servants under you?

1081. Have you anything more to say before you retire? Have you any suggestion to make ?
—No, that is all we were talking of. That is all our complaint—the land is too little to support us.

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