DONALD NICOLSON, Solitote (78)—examined
2362. The Chairman.
—Are you a crofter ?
—I had a croft, but it was taken from me. I am only going from house to house.
2363. Where was your former croft ?
2364. What have you to state to us?
—My rent was doubled, and I would not get it even then unless I would promise to pay an additional £1. My rent was £7, 10s., and it was doubled at once, and another pound added. I did not refuse to pay the double rent, but I declined to pay the extra £1. I then got warning. When the summer came, the officer came and ejected me. He put everything I had out of the house, and I was only wanting payment for my houses, and I would go. The doors were locked on me. The tacksman of Monkstadt sent word round to the rest of the crofters that any one who would open door for me would be treated the same way as I was next year—and they are here to-day—and not one of them would let me into his house, they were so afraid. I could not cut a peat. My son's wife was in with her two young children, and we were that night in the cart-shed, and our neighbours were afraid to let us in, and crying over us. The peats were locked up. They still had the mark upon us. We had not a fire to prepare a cake. There was plenty of meal outside, but we had not a fire to prepare it. I was then staying in the stable during the summer. I could only make one bed in it. My daughter and my son's wife and the two children were sleeping in that bed, and I myself was sleeping on the stones. The Presbytery of the Established Church, during a vacancy, allowed me to enter the glebe. The factor then shut up my outhouses, and I would not be permitted to enter one of them. I was afterwards staying in the house of a poor woman who was taking care of a sick friend, and the factor challenged Mr Stewart, the tacksman of Duntulm, for permitting me to have shelter in this house, for it was on his ground that this poor woman was; and it is Mr Grant, the minister of the parish, who is supporting me to-day,
2365. Sheriff Nicolson.
—When did all this happen ?
—Five years ago. There was due to me £ 6 for the making of drains on the lot, and my neighbours got this, but none was allowed to me. The factor would not pay me a penny, and it is still due to me.
2366. Did you get anything for the house
—The sum due by me was £35, but I got credit for the value of the house, which was £7 ; I did not get value for the other houses. They were valued at £17, 10s. and I did not get the value for them.
2367. The Chairman.
—Who was the factor?
—Mr Alexander Macdonald, the present factor. He was law agent as well in the matter.
2368. [The Interpreter made the following statement:
—He was evicted twice, but when put out he had a shed to enter into, and he entered the shed and entered the stable, and then he was evicted out of these, and an interdict was issued against him forbidding him any more to enter the house or the lands. Under stress of circumstances, he entered a barn, the key of which was given to him for the purpose of securing the crop, but was had up for breach of interdict, and for this breach of interdict he was fined 10s. with the alternative of five days' imprisonment. The expense of the interdict was something like £8. In the £35 there was a whole year's rent due. He was charged, besides, violent profits, being the legal penalty for remaining in possession after the term.
2369. The Chairman.
—Was all that money really exacted ?
2370. And it passed into the possession of the factor?
—Yes; I settled with the factor for him, and advanced the money out of the bank for him.
2371. Did you recover it ?
—He paid me when the markets came round, and he was able to realise his stock.
2372. The Chairman.
—How do you earn your subsistence now?
—Nothing, unless Mr Grant, the minister, helps me.
2373. Have you any son or child ?
—I have a son. My family was scattered when I lost the place.
2374. Where is your son ?
—He is with a niece of mine at Kilmuir.
2375. Has he a croft?
—No ; he is going to be herd at Kingsburgh at Whitsunday. I think I should get the piece of land I had, and I would try to manage it yet, if I got it. If I got land I would help—I would gather the family yet