Waternish, Skye, 14 May 1883 - Alexander Morrison

ALEXANDER MORRISON, Crofter and Fisherman, Forsavriev (40)— examined.

3535. The Chairman.
—Are you a freely elected delegate ?

3536. When?

3537. Why did they not elect their delegate sooner
—We were long of hearing. We came over here, and we could not get any person to write for us. We could not write ourselves.

3538. Did any one try to prevent you corresponding with the Commission ?

3539. What statement are you authorised to make to the Commission?
— That we are in a bad place. Our arable land is peat to the depth of about 3 or 4 feet, and it is not yielding crop. We took it in ourselves. We were getting Is. a rood from the laird for taking it in. We cannot get sea-weed to manure our land, unless with fine weather and a south wind. Each of us could sow three or four bags of seed oats. There are some of us who bought two bolls of seed oats to sow, and some of us who, even with the two bolls of seed oats which they bought, along with the seed which the land yielded, had not sufficient to sow their land. All the potatoes which we can cultivate will not support us more than two or three months, at any rate, this year. Our stock is, some two cows, and others three cows each, and maybe a stirk or a two-year-old. I cannot tell how many sheep we have. The sheep don't belong to ourselves they belong to the landlord. We keep a horse each, and the land is so soft and boggy, that I can only get three hours' work out of the horse, and others cannot work with the horses at all.

3540. How much is the rent
—£9 and a few shillings each. 1 have to pay wintering for the cows. It would be enough for me to winter one of the cows and a horse with my crop.

3541. Has the rent been raised ?

3542. How long has it been the same rent?
—Since I went to Forsavriev, nineteen years ago, it has not been raised. It was not for the habitation of man that that place was created at all. During the past twenty days or month we took out of the bogs on our land up to twenty ewes and some hoggs, which were drowned in the bogs.(see Appendix A. VII)

3543. Mr Fraser-Mackintosh.
—Were they your own?
—It was of our own sheep stock, but the sheep stock we did not consider to belong to ourselves at all.

3544. The Chairman.
—Why ?
—The day we leave we cannot take any of them with us.

3545. Is that on account of arrears of rent ?
—The sheep belong to the landlord.

3546. Why do you let the common pasture to the landlord?
—When the people got the township, the landlord sold them the sheep stock, which they were to pay for, and since then they have not been able to pay for the stock.

3547. Have they paid any of it?
—I do not know, but they may havepaida little at first.

3548. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—Do they pay interest?
—Yes, they payinterest.

3549. Sheriff Nicolson.
—What was the amount of the stock?
—160 ewes. I was not among the first tenants at all.

3550. What price were they sold at?
—£1 and 22s. each. Some of the crofters tell me so.

3551. How long ago was that?
—Twenty-two years ago.

3552. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—I understand this was a new settlement ?
—There were no tenants in it until we settled in it twenty-two years ago.

3553. When they came twenty-two years ago, was there any arable land at all ?
—There was a little when we went there first, but we were shifted down to the lower place since.

3554. But the arable land you have now is all newly improved land ?
— Yes. They got Is. a rood for trenching and improving this.

3555. Did they pay interest on that money ?

3556. But was the rent fixed before the land was taken in ?

3557. Then this £9 odd, does that include interest upon the stock ?

3558. This is the rent simply of the share of the hill land you got before it was improved ?

3559. Did you go there of your own free will ?

3560. Have you not spent money since in improving the land ?

3561. How much Ì
—I cannot say.

3562. How many acres have you improved at Is. a rood?
—Between fourteen and fifteen.

3563. The Chairman.
—So the Is. a rood amounted to a good day's wages ?
—Yes, I would make three roods a day.

3564. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie.
—It seems you got a very bad bargain of the farm ?
—Yes, there are rocks, and our sheep are going over these rocks to the sea-shore, and are carried away by the sea, the sea being directly under these rocks. Others of our sheep stick in the cliffs, and we have to lower a man down with ropes to get them extricated.

3665. Does the proprietor refuse to relieve you of your bargain ?
—We were within the last year asking another place of him, and he was promising it.

3566. What do you think the Commission should do for you?
—The land which is wasted both in Minginish and Bracadale, where my forefathers were born, should be restored to the people. There is plenty of land for all the inhabitants of Skye, if they could get it.

3567. Did you come from Bracadale nineteen years ago?
—No, but my father came from Bracadale to Minginish.

3568. Where did the others come from ?
—From Ascrib island, some of them.

3569. How many tenants were at Ascrib island?

3570. Do your horses and cows go upon the common pasture occasionally where the proprietor's sheep are?

3571. The Chairman.
—Then the common pasture is useful to you, although the sheep belong to the landlord ?
—Yes, it is ourselves who get the produce of the sheep, but the day we leave we have no sheep; and if we would be another year in the place, we would not have a cow or sheep or other creature that we could take with us over the dyke, if next year will be as the present year. The parties who are the means of this Royal Commission are suffering in prison, and we are quiet here, and if we don't get justice we will go to prison ourselves, or else we will sell our lives as dear as possible.

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