Uig, 10 May 1883 - Donald Beaton (Herbosta)

DONALD BEATON, Crofter, Herbosta (51)—examined.

2188. The Chairman.
—You have given in a paper. Does that paper contain what you wish to say to the Commissioners ?
—Yes; it is as follows :
—Statement of Facts.
—Larger holdings ; security against evictions and raising of rents ; hill pasture for sheep and horses; lands to be valued by the Government; land laws to be changed, to prevent the removal of tenants as long as they pay their rents; right to cut sea-ware.

2189. What is the size of your croft?
—About 6 or 7 acres.

2190. What is the summing
—the amount of stock it is calculated to keep ?
—Three cows, and it would not do justice to two.

2191. Any other stock
—That is all.

2192. No sheep ?
—No sheep; we have no hill pasture.

2193. What is the rent?
—£8, 10s. now.

2194. How long have you had it ?
—It is thirty-one years since I came to it.

2195. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Is £8, 10s. the last rent after the reduction?
—£9, 10s. was the rent before the last reduction.

2196. What is the rent at this moment?
—The rent is put down at £8, 10s., and the last abatement was £2, 2s. 6d., which leaves £6, 7s. 6d:
2197. How much was the original rent, when you came to the place?
— £4, 13s., and the hill pasture included in that.

2198. How often has the rent been raised?
—It is in the receipts that I produce.

2199. Professor Mackinnon.
—Who was Flora M'Queen, named in the receipt ?
—She was an aunt who was with me on the holding.

2200. And this rent for the year 1857, was it for exactly the same croft you hold now ?
—Yes, for the same.

2201. The rent at that time is down at £2, 2s. 6d. for the half year. In 1864 it was £5, 15s.; in 1880 it was £8, 10s., and so it remains, with an abatement for the last two years of £2, 2s. 6d.?

2202. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—How many crofters are there in Herbosta?

2203. Were there always the same number ?
—Yes ; there were always eight tenants, but not all the same rent.

2204. When did you lose your hill pasture ?
—Eighteen years ago.

2205. What did you keep on the hill at that time ?
—About twenty sheep, three cows, and a horse.

2206. You have got three cows yet ?

2207. Who got the pasture ?
—It was divided between the tacks of Monkstadt and Duntulm.

2208. The arable land has not been decreased in size?

2209. Do they complain it is too small?
—Yes, for the rent.

2210. They would be satisfied with a smaller rent, then?
—Yes, if we would get the hill

2211. Does your arable land produce as good crops as it used to do ?
— No, we have no way of doing that.

2212. Have you no fear of being removed by the landlord?
—Yes ; but not now. Before now, we would get a removal if our rents were not paid.

2213. Then, you mean to say you are not paying your rents, now?
—No, we have not paid it altogether this year yet.

2214. You have paid some of it?

2215. Are you not able to pay it?

2216. If you were able to pay it, would you?
—Yes; we were paying the rent when it was dearer than what it is now.

2217. Then, practically, your complaint is that your rent is too dear, and that you have not got hill pasture ?

2218. And if your hill pasture were given back, and your rents reduced, you would be satisfied ?
—I think we would.

2219. Do you think £6, 7s. 6d. too high for 6 or 7 acres, with the right of grazing two cows ?
—What is the use of that when the grazing is not grazing, and when the land will not give crop ?

2220. Is that partly due to their mode of cultivating and re-cropping ?
— Yes. We ceased to work on the land when the rent was being increased upon us.

2221. Is Herbosta on the sea coast ?

2222. You ask for the right to cut sea-ware. On whose ground do you want this right ?
—It lies on the beach, where it would be easy for us to cart it home.

2223. Don't the people who have the beach claim the right to the seaware on it?
—The tacksman is not cutting the sea-ware at all.

2224. Do they sell it to you ?
—We don't ask it of him.

2225. And you are not getting it?
—We don't ask it.

2226. Are you taking it ?
—I never did so myself.

2227. Then why do they ask the right to cut it, if they never took the trouble to ask it ?
—We think it would do us good to have the right.

2228. If you were to ask for it, would the tacksman refuse it?,
—I do not know.

2229. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Is the whole sea coast held by Monkstadt ?
— Not altogether. Some of the crofters have got right to part of it.

2230. How far are they from the sea at Herbosta ?
—About a mile and a half, or so.

2231. Are the people there much in debt ?

2232. Is everybody in debt ?
—So far as I am aware.

2233. But they have generally paid their rent ?
—No, it is only one man who paid the whole rent last year.

2234. Did any of them refuse to pay ?
—I do not know.

2235. The Chairman.
—Have you anything more to state before you retire ?
—-I do not think I have.

2236. Professor Mackinnon.
—Is it the case that the croft which now is £8, 10s., with the present abatement, less the hill pasture, was formerly rented at £4, 13s.?
—Yes, that is just the case. The croft was £4, 13s.; that would keep twenty sheep, and the twenty sheep were taken away, and we were charged £8, 10s.

2237. Sheriff Nicolson.
—Are you charged anything for a doctor in your rent?
—Yes, 5s. doctor's money is included in the £8, 10s.

2238. What is the doctor's name ?
—Mr Brown.

2239. Is the doctor obliged, for that 5s., to give his services whenever they are wanted ?

2240. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—You say that the people are very poor, and the township is poor and almost every one in debt so far as you are aware. Are they going gradually down, and getting worse in their circumstances year by year ?

2241. How many years back does your recollection of the township go ?
—Thirty-one years.

2242. At the time when they were paying a small rent, and had twenty sheep, were families fairly comfortable in their circumstances ?

2243. And they were not complaining?

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